Akagami No Shirayuki-hime

October 29, 2017

While it might sound a bit misleading like as though this is some anime version of Snow White, Akagami No Shirayuki-hime is nothing like that. Not even a mash up between Snow White and Red Riding Hood. I don’t blame you if you literally translate the title and thought so since that was my first impression too. So there are no evil queens or magic mirrors or seven dwarves or big bad hungry wolf that you will come across here (although there’s a poison apple…). Though, it is still a fantasy genre. If you want a true romance love story that is hard to find in today’s era, this is a show that you need to watch.

Episode 1
Shirayuki is an herbalist working happily in a small town of Tanbarun. Till one day a guard from the royal came to her to tell her to become a concubine of Prince Raj Shenazard. Being an independent woman who determines her own destiny, she decides to run away and cuts her long beautiful red hair, leaving it behind as a sign of refusal. She travels to the next kingdom and while resting in an abandon hideout, her presence startles Zen Wistalia Clarines, tripping and injuring a bit of his hand. She would like to treat it but he is cautious if it is poison. She uses it on herself to earn his trust. Zen introduces himself and his retainers, Kiki Seiran and Mitsuhide Rouen. He soon learns the reason why she ran away. He believes she made a good call and although her red hair might cause her trouble, it might be connected to something good. Soon, a basket with apples is sent to them. It has Shirayuki’s hair in it. Looks like Raj is hell bent in getting what he wants. Probably Shirayuki is too preoccupied to think the apples are poisoned. Luckily Zen takes a bite on her behalf and gets poisoned. Raj’s guard knocks on the door and realizes Shirayuki didn’t eat the apple. But if she wants the antidote, she has to come with him. No choice, she follows him to see Raj. The usual cocky bastard that everyone would love to hate. He keeps changing the subject each time she asks for the antidote. He feels embarrassed by her rejection and to atone for being a laughing stock, he wants her to become his concubine. He tries to touch her but she smacks away his hand. Zen and co has barged in to rescue Shirayuki. Raj tries to boast his status but Zen shows his crest on the sword. He is the second prince of Clarines. So if Raj doesn’t want this incident of him poisoning another prince, he better make a deal to stay away from them. After Zen takes the antidote, Shirayuki apologizes for becoming his poison. He rubbishes this joke. Although both are the kind of people to choose their own fate, they believe their meeting was brought together by fate.

Episode 2
Shirayuki tries to find a job as an herbalist but no openings. She learns there is a very young boy who is appointed as the royal court’s official herbalist and is given the details on how to become a court herbalist if she is so interested to be one. As Shirayuki is considered as Zen’s guest, she is allowed access to the castle. She is here to tell Zen she will be going on a day trip to gather some stock for her herbs. After a boat ride to an island, she is knocked out by a young lad named Mihaya. She wakes up tied up in his dungeon. She thinks he is one of those people who wants to sell her because of her rare red hair. However he would like to keep her and ‘display’ her for money. He doesn’t mind waiting to let her hair grow out. Zen knows something is wrong when he visits Shirayuki’s place and is told she never came back. Shirayuki isn’t one to sit idle and let her prince come to rescue. For the entire day she has been trying to cut her ropes so when Mihaya checks on her, she surprises him by escaping. The place is a maze so she easily gets lost. But when she is cornered, she concocted some herbs to temporarily paralyze Mihaya. Although she manages to get out, Mihaya is still hot on her heels. Luckily at this point Zen has arrived and put a stop to this shenanigan. Mihaya explains he was once a noble. But all that richness fell apart and his family fallen on hard times. This castle was where they once lived. Mihaya would do anything to make money but Zen chides him that she is not anyone’s tool. Mihaya is arrested back on land but he asks Shirayuki the place she longs to be. Later she answers Zen this. She decided to come to Clarines to see how he lives his life and the place where she’ll be will let her see that. He hopes he can see her from that place too.

Episode 3
One of the royal retainers, Haruka isn’t happy about Zen’s relationship with Shirayuki. He hates that red hair colour. So he tries to warn him about this girl without any social status just using him to his advantage. Because Haruka claims she lacks any power to proof her own worth, Zen asks back what if she is just a girl who never had such expectations. Haruka isn’t amused about this game but Zen is serious too. Shirayuki returns to the castle to retrieve a book she left behind. Then she heard orders going around about not letting Shirayuki in freely anymore (realizing she relies on his power to see him) and almost shot by a warning arrow that carries a message not to see Zen. She is not cowed and continues to trudge ahead. Eventually she stumbles upon Zen and he learns what is going on. She didn’t go to him directly because she wants to talk to the culprit directly who might be willing to talk if she is by herself. When Shirayuki is stopped by Haruka who views her as a suspicious person, Shirayuki can tell he is so certain about her despite meeting for the first time. He draws his sword, threatening to strike but Shirayuki dares him. As she pushes forward, Haruka becomes hesitant, Zen’s words about her ring through his mind. He puts back his sword after realizing she is no threat. Obi pops up to reveal he was the one who shot that arrow and give those orders although Haruka’s pride won’t allow him to acknowledge all that and instead admits he planned it himself. Zen also pops up. Now he has heard everything, it is a good thing nothing untoward happened or else there would have been an uproar in the castle. Haruka still doesn’t like Shirayuki being this friendly with Zen so Zen asks if titles and status are important to him. Yes they are. So please treat it as such. Haruka leaves and Obi is taken away by Kiki and Mitsuhide. Shirayuki tells Zen she is here to tell him that she is applying to become a court herbalist.

Episode 4
The exam for the court herbalist is here. Garak Gazelt, the chief herbalist gives each candidate a plot of garden to tend and care and they’ll have to write a report in a few days. During the first night, Zen comes to see her but it seems somebody locks them inside the greenhouse. Zen is afraid this might affect her exam but she wonders why he is here in the first place. Oh, did he really wander here? Shirayuki notices some plant that if wrongly planted could become toxic to others. So she has Zen stop the aqueduct while she removes the surrounding plants and replant them from scratch. They are done when morning arrives. Garak is shocked to see them both inside. She asks if Zen helped her with this which might affect her examination results. Shirayuki answers she did so because these herbs may one day save his life. Garak further adds there was an examinee who was mistaken for an intruder last night. Possibly to reduce the competition. She will continue to investigate this. Zen explains he is here on his own will. Garak reminds him because of that status, his word is law. So why not make her the court herbalist then? If he does, she will never come back here again. Garak is amused by their relationship and passes her. Apparently the poison plants were on there on purpose. Part of the exam is to spot it. That is more than enough but for Shirayuki to replant the garden? Just wow. She puts Shirayuki under the supervision of their youngest court herbalist, Ryu. There is a customer who needs medication for his chest pains. But when Ryu refers him to others, he is also relieved. People know Ryu as one who studies poison plants and uses others as test subjects. This makes Shirayuki mad about this baseless accusation. Don’t you know plants produce poison for self-defence? But Ryu also gets scolded for brushing this off. First time somebody called him stupid. No wonder he looks so shocked. Garak soon gives Shirayuki a medical history of Zen since she is close to him. She is shocked to learn he is a subject of poison testing. Now she knows why he has immunity to certain poisons. So sad she starts crying! Ryu is shocked to see this and calls Zen for help. He goes talk and comfort her and when she’s done, she goes to apologize to Ryu for scaring him. They reconcile and talk more about plants. Zen felt jealous and won’t lose out and joins in too.

Episode 5
The gang head off to the town of Laxdo. After dropping off Shirayuki, Zen and co head to a nearby fortress for their routine check. However only the guard on duty, Shuka is well and the rest are out ill. He believes the fort is haunted. As they take a look around, they notice the armoury empty and nobody knows about it. It could be that bandits took advantage of this and stole the weapons. Obi will investigate this. Of course, who better than to heal the soldiers but Shirayuki. Zen is worried about her getting sick and insists to stay by her side. She can take care of herself as Mitsuhide reminds him about his responsibilities. Shirayuki realizes that the symptoms vary from soldier to soldier. Then she notices those deeper inside are more serious than those near the door. It then hit her the firewood is the culprit as its particles cause harmful effects if you breathe them in. Next morning, Shirayuki doesn’t feel well. She has overworked herself. Luckily Obi was there to catch her before she falls. She doesn’t want him to tell Zen or anyone since everybody is feeling better, she doesn’t want to ruin that. But Zen is sharp and can tell too. Because he knows she has not slept ever since. He forces her to rest. Just in time Obi returns after discovering the bandits’ hideout. Apparently they are the ones who gave the firewood as part of their plan to steal their weapons. The bandits underestimated the kids and get owned. Just in time to return to recovering Shirayuki to ‘lecture’ her about not keeping secrets from him again. Then he thanks her for being by his side and kisses her hand.

Episode 6
Shirayuki now has her own uniform and ID as the court herbalist. When Zen notices many guards stationed at different places, he knows something is off. He tells Kiki and Mitsuhide to get ready and soon enough he gets an order. The first prince of Clarines, Izana has returned and summons Zen. He heard about the Laxdo incident and wonders why he didn’t mete punishment for the guards. Because of that, Izana will punish him by relieving his responsibilities over Laxdo for 6 months as punishment in their place. This forces Zen to reconsider his decision. Izana dismisses him right after he ushers Shirayuki in. Zen quickly hugs her and whispers he will see her soon. Izana talks to Shirayuki about being by Zen’s side. She must have been something of great value to him. Though, she dismisses anything noteworthy about herself. Soon Izana holds a garden party and he invites Raj over. Man, that Tanbarun prince is sure panicking. Obi sneaks out to take Shirayuki to eavesdrop on their conversation. Izana starts off with Raj’s infatuation with a certain red head, he can hold a banquet for them if he still likes her. Raj barely can lie while keeping a straight face. When Izana asks what is stopping him from seeing her, Raj had to say Zen told him he considered marrying Shirayuki. Everyone is shocked to hear this. Zen takes Raj away to talk. Raj may have screwed up but in that situation he has no choice but to say that. He knows Zen likes Shirayuki and if he doesn’t say that, Shirayuki has no justification to stay by his side. But if he does not have such intentions, Raj wants his permission to court her then. Over his dead body. Zen returns to tell about Raj’s misunderstanding and that Zen hasn’t even considered proposing to her yet. Shirayuki has a lot weighing on her mind. She wonders if Izana is implying he doesn’t want her in Clarines.

Episode 7
Shirayuki looks for Zen and finds him. Instantly she hugs him. After telling him the warning Izana told her, he tells his past of how Izana is always a step ahead. When he was 17 and to commemorate his birthday, he wanted a castle built on the borders of 2 infamous feuding lords. Both send him tributes to fund the castle. They also send retainers to secretly meet with him. However the retainers are worried as they reveal their lords have been taxing the people for the tributes. Izana then goes to meet the lord and tell both the same story. They stop the taxing but then resort to shadier means of getting the funds. Izana made an inquiry into the misdeeds they have done and removed them. He believes lords who weaken their own people should be disposed of swiftly and silently. He reinstated their retainers as successors. He returned all the tributes and never spent a single coin. It was then Zen wanted to become like him and knows he is the kind of king Clarines needs. Zen tells of Raj’s statement that might cause her to be uncomfortable. She takes it on a positive note that she can stay. Then he hugs her. Now that everyone’s attention is on her, the more reason she should continue following her chosen path. Later Zen talks to Izana about being rude to Shirayuki. He claims he doesn’t have time to observe one girl. And it didn’t take long for him to know Zen has fallen for her. Zen vows not to let spending time with her hinder the life he wants to lead. Izana suggests why not leave her then? Raj continues his tour over the palace grounds. Since he has been nervous all day, his stomach cramps are starting to show. He has his assistant, Sakaki go fetch medicine. Then he has the bad luck to bump into Shirayuki. Awkward. He tries to keep cool but apparently the pain got worse. Thinking she brought him the medicine, he is about to drink it but she slaps it away. That medicine is to apply on the skin. Shirayuki thinks Ryu would be mad for this waste but Izana saw everything. He thinks Raj is suited for her. Would she want to live in this country with a man like him? It’s the place where she met Zen. A short stare down and Izana realizes she isn’t going to back down. So pecking her forehead as intimidation? She doesn’t feel that way and will continue staying here.

Episode 8
With rumours really spreading that the people are really thinking Shirayuki is Zen’s fiancée, Zen wants Obi to be Shirayuki’s retainer. Obi makes himself useful helping her. But when he asks her opinion if Zen would be better if he wasn’t a prince, she warns him not to say that again or she will take this as an insult. As Zen overheard it, this brings back memories of the past. Izana assigned Mitsuhide to him as his retainer. At first Zen didn’t like him because he has this feeling Mitsuhide would prefer to serve Izana than him. Despite some hurtful words, Mitsuhide isn’t going to be his yes man and advises him to watch his words. He continues to keep watch on him and notices Zen often sneaks out to hang out with a boy named Atori. Zen considers him as his best friend because from his position he isn’t allowed to make friends. Mitsuhide tries to do research on this kid but couldn’t find much detail. He reports to Izana about this archer boy whom Zen always sneaks out to go see as he will definitely not be allowed into palace grounds. But recently Atori has been put on night shift. Izana immediately understood what it implies. Zen sneaks out to meet Atori but sees him wounded. He is attacked by bandits. Apparently Atori is one of them too but they think he was going to turn tail on them and attacked him. Mitsuhide comes into the scene so the bandits tell him to bring Izana out as they have a grudge against him or else Zen would not be guaranteed back in one piece. Don’t worry. Izana is here. He realizes these are the rebels from the town whom he removed the lord. They claim Izana’s act has ruined their livelihood but he sees them no more than scums lining up their own pockets. Izana and Mitsuhide hack and slash the rebels while Atori gets ready to kill Zen, jealous and blaming him of his royal life. Mitsuhide quickly strikes him down. Zen is still worried about Atori at this point as he hears Atori’s last words that it would have been better if he wasn’t a prince.

Episode 9
Shirayuki wakes up but is still drunk. Luckily Obi is around to keep watch as she isn’t steady on her feet and mind. Obi also intercepts a spy spying and noting records of her. With Shirayuki blaming herself over her uselessness especially that Laxdo incident, it dawned to Obi that she is trying to go there by herself! He also realizes she is the same like Zen in which she would take actions without considering the consequences if she is by herself. Obi tells her he has stopped by Laxdo on his way back from his duty and gives her herbs and notes from the fort as proof. After that Shirayuki passes out as Obi carries her back. When Zen receives a message from Obi about this, he immediately goes to look for them. Flashback to a month after Atori’s death, Mitsuhide gave Zen a memento from Atori. He had no grave. Zen was sad he suspected Atori at first but wanted to trust him. Mitsuhide advised him that allowing his doubts to show won’t help gain anyone’s trust. Instead of protecting himself from enemies, why not identity who are his allies? Mitsuhide vows to protect him and Zen got his motivation to become a better prince. But first he needs to get stronger. Zen finds Obi and hears everything that has happened. He drinks a toast to Obi for doing a good job. Then he gives him his own tag. Obi is now Zen’s messenger. It is his title. But it isn’t an easy job and there’s more to it. Especially Obi is supposed to remain by Shirayuki’s side and report to him if anything arises. This way, Zen doubts anybody would attempt to get near her. He notes he needs to get better in protecting what’s important to him.

Episode 10
While working in the herb garden, Shirayuki meets Kiharu Toghrul and her bird pet, Popo. She isn’t exactly Zen’s guest. You see, she lives in the southern islands of Clarines where people live among the birds. However, the local lord Viscount Brecker has been calling his friends to hunt them as sport and gloat about it. When Kiharu protested, Brecker dared her to go see Zen and even taunted he would bring her to see him. She doesn’t have a very good impression of the royalty. Kiharu and Brecker have an audience with Zen. To stop the hunting, they need to discuss the island be turned into a nature preservation. Because the island is under another territory’s jurisdiction, the affected parties should solve this themselves. Brecker arrogantly laughs at this expected decision. Shirayuki thinks that if herbs are protected for their medicinal value, would those birds be protected if they had a similar value? Then it hit her. She goes to talk to Zen. Zen then summons Kiharu. If that bird can be used as an effective means communication, he is willing to make the bird official. As the islanders are all well trained in using the bird, this gives Kiharu an opportunity to show him in tomorrow’s test. Picking Shirayuki as her assistant, Shirayuki and Brecker will wait at a watch tower. Kiharu will send Popo to pick up documents there and return. If Popo doesn’t return within a stipulated time, the test is deemed failed. As Shirayuki waits, Brecker comes up to her with a proposal. He wants to support her from the shadows in exchange for this test to fail. Of course she will not allow it and this upsets him. After ripping her walnut stone (natural homing device for the birds) and throwing it into the lake, he locks Shirayuki up. She won’t be submitted yet as she jumps out into the lake from her window! Though a bit injured, she tries to find the stone. Popo has arrived but it seems it is circling around a certain area. Shirayuki dives there to retrieve the stone. Brecker’s guard arrest him for violation. Soon Popo returns and Zen officially announces the bird as Clarines’ official communication means. Zen notices an extra document from Popo summarizing what happened. He quickly rides over and rushes to see Shirayuki. She apologizes that she didn’t have any intention to hide this from him. But after seeing her sweet smile, he kisses her!

Episode 11
With Shirayuki in shock, Zen realizes too late what he did without permission. He will ask her the next time if he has to touch her and hopes by then she will speak to him honestly. Subsequently, Shirayuki cannot bring herself to face Zen. Obi senses something amiss. Zen and his retainers accompany Kiharu back to her island to negotiate for the birds to be official communication and thus trainers to be sent to the royal palace. But the village head is sceptical. He wants Zen to show his goodwill by making Brecker apologize to them as well as a large sum or reparation. Zen will double that amount because he believes he will use that money wisely. The village head apologizes for his rudeness. The village has a feast that night. Mitsuhide can tell something happened to Zen and asks him. Zen reveals he kissed Shirayuki. No, it’s not a dream. Shirayuki still has her doubts so Obi brings her for a walk in the woods. He wants to hold her hand but Zen suddenly returns. With Shirayuki strangely hiding behind Obi, Obi then signals for her to run. Which she did. Then he has Zen go after her. Shirayuki knows she did the dumbest thing but can’t help continue running when Zen calls her. When he catches up, he brings her to a spot he used to relax. He tells her of their breakthrough with Kiharu. It is at this moment Shirayuki realizes she is in love with Zen. In tears, she confesses she loves him. Well, we figured that out a long time ago. Shucks, it’s hard to be sarcastic when she is crying like that. Shirayuki worries about looking at him the same way she always has. Zen says his title may not protect her or if he could ever repay her. He wants to be with her and vows to protect her with all he’s got. He also asks her for her help since she gives him strength. It ends with a true tender kiss shared.

Episode 12
It is public visitation day when the castle grounds are open to the public. Zen masquerades as a guard to bring Shirayuki (hiding her red hair too) around. Obi wins a prize money from a fight under an alias. He gives a hair accessory to Shirayuki so that she could show it to Zen later. Later in the day, Zen sees Ryu in a hurry. He says that somebody is injured. There is a play going on and the main actress fractured her foot. She is bent on going back on to win the prize but it seems the director wants Shirayuki to take her place. It could have been just that but it looks like the director has ulterior motives. Shirayuki is on stage with the main actor who is hesitating. When Obi busts the director to spill the beans, it seems he wants to reveal Shirayuki’s red hair to the public and believes it will make them famous. With that, Zen jumps into the performance to ‘rescue’ the ‘princess’. At the backstage she learns what happened as Obi teased how Zen had that sour look on his face when he went all out to protect her hair and perhaps a kiss on her hand. Later Zen and Shirayuki have a moment together. She shows him the hair accessory and he compliments her. Shirayuki explains how her grandparents taught her to be independent and how she could do anything as long as she worked towards it. She then asks him to hold out his hand in which she surprises him by kissing it. They go outside to watch the mark of the end of the public visitation day with the people releasing lighted balloons (jellyfish?) into the sky as a symbol of their wishes.

Zen suggests to Shirayuki on her next day off, he would like to accompany her shopping in town. Just the 2 of them. No matter how you see it, that’s a date, right? Wait a minute, Zen. You really don’t know what a date is?! Mitsuhide please explain. Walk around, shop together and then kiss. Oh Zen, you looking stiff. That day comes as Zen and Shirayuki go to town together. They think of what to get for their subordinates. This has Zen remember the first time Mitsuhide and Kiki met. Well, Kiki sounded and acted like a robot. Not to say she is any different now but back then she really seemed like one as she would do what is told of her. Like to drop the formalities with Zen. Speaking of them, Obi suggests to Mitsuhide to date Kiki. He is actually mulling that idea. Too bad Kiki doesn’t like it and locks them in the room! I thought she was shy… Nah! When Zen asks Shirayuki if she has been receiving letters from Raj (of course not), we focus on him now as he is appalled as all his desserts are apple based! Bad memories, eh? Here, have some apple tea. Sakaki wonders why he doesn’t hold balls anymore. He is bored. This reminds Sakaki that Raj being raised as a spoilt prince always gets bored of things fast. Except the fine arts. Back to Zen, he wants to get Shirayuki something that will remember this day by. She looks around and then he buys her a necklace. They walk the rest of the day holding hands. And for a special gift to commemorate it all in the end, Zen kisses her. Hey, this is part of the date, right? Back at the palace, Zen gives his subordinates the souvenirs. Clearly they are all so weird and out of place that it definitely shows this is his first time getting them gifts.

Season 2

Episode 13
A page is stuck on a tree and Ryu can’t get it since he has never climbed trees before so Obi lets him ride on his shoulders. As gratitude, he gives him some flower seeds. Zen is working hard and gets a paper cut. He wanted to brush it off but after being warned to snub off something small, he goes to get treatment. He quickly falls asleep after his finger is bandaged. Shirayuki comes to see him. He must be sleep talking as he takes her hand and kisses it. I hope it is a good dream. Soon Zen gets word that Mihaya wants to have an audience with him and Shirayuki. Zen is still mad about that guy. After Mihaya was bailed out, he started working on a ship. He met a good looking kid named Kazuki who claims he saw a red haired woman. Mihaya told him all about her. So you can say he is trying to make his way here. Zen blows his top when Mihaya wants compensation for this information or to work in the palace. Mihaya reveals that Kazuki feels Shirayuki doesn’t fit staying at the palace and has a fitting place for her. Soon the duo are called by Izana. Actually this only concerns Shirayuki but he thought it would be Zen’s interest to be in the know. Raj has invited Shirayuki to a ball at Tanbarun. It seems word has gone around that Raj has become a better prince ever since. It would be good for them to ascertain this. Of course it would be bad if Raj is still the incompetent fool since he is going to ascend the throne. Izana wants her to undergo training to conduct and carry herself before leaving for a week’s stay at Tanbarun. Therefore he hereby orders her on a 2 weeks’ leave for this. However Zen adds a condition that he wants to send a trusted subordinate to accompany her or he won’t allow her to go. Agreed. Zen has Mitsuhide accompany Shirayuki.

Episode 14
I hope Shirayuki’s training goes well. She destroyed the dance instructor’s feet… Obi accompanies Mihaya but no sign of Kazuki anywhere. Later Obi duels with Zen and if he wins, he will accompany Shirayuki to Tanbarun. It might look like it ended in a draw but Zen admits his loss since he realizes Obi can fight better unarmed. The night before Shirayuki departs, Zen goes to talk to her. And all that they just hug each other? Okay. Not bad. Before Shirayuki leaves, she hopes Zen could give something to her to bring to Tanbarun. Maybe this old watch? Zen talks to Izana as he didn’t expect him to see them off. Izana says there is something else that caught his eye about Shirayuki. It is the colour of her eyes. Hopefully when she returns it will be unclouded. Haruka accompanies Shirayuki but only up till the border. He reminds her to conduct herself wisely and not bring back shame. Stepping back into Tanbarun, Shirayuki looks happy to have returned to her previous home. When Raj greets her, there is this sense of regal around him. Wow. Did he really change? But inside his throne room, he reverts to his usual self and asking why she come! Huh?! Didn’t he invite her? Well, he was troubled over the thought of being under her care during his stay at Clarines so Sakaki suggested writing a letter to invite and personally thank her. Maybe there is some sort of inner sadism in Sakaki as he tells Raj to let her stay and spend time with him. She is after all his invited guest. Raj didn’t think Shirayuki would accept this. They may have interacted occasionally in the past but since this chance won’t arise again, why not? Okay. He takes up her offer since she insists.

Episode 15
Raj’s younger twin siblings, Rona and Yujina decide to go see what kind of person Shirayuki is since that girl changed him. It’s still awkward between Raj and Shirayuki. Nothing in particular to talk about. So he decides to show her around and she wants to see the greenhouse. Because Obi tells him there are many people ‘spying’ on them, he decides to take them through an underground passage. His pride won’t admit it but I think they’re lost. He even activates a few traps! The twins are actually following them to observe more about their interaction. As they move forward, Obi then goes back to bring the twins out of their hiding and dodges all the traps they activated. He isn’t so easily caught. Shirayuki thought of going back to help Obi but Raj won’t allow it, fearing something would happen to her and Zen will do something to him. Shirayuki says if he feels threatened by anything she says or does, she might as well return to Clarines now. Staying here does nothing good for them. He wonders why she decided to stay then. It’s because she wants to mend their relationship. Their first impression may not be good but spending time with others can change your perception. Obi brings the twins to them as they introduce themselves. Rona pretends to be lost for she wants to observe them more but Yujina is sick of it tells them the way out. They appear in the greenhouse. As Shirayuki looks around, Rona wonders if Raj is in love with Shirayuki since he is staring at her. Whether so or not, she believes he re-evaluated himself after meeting her in Clarines. Prideful Raj corrects her that he is already perfect and only making himself even more perfect. The twins are surprised when Raj speaks softly and admits his failing to Obi. Back at Clarines, Kiki reports that Kazuki has been spotted. Also, Mihaya is missing from the castle. He goes to see Kazuki and wants to capture him to get the reward. Of course he fails. Kazuki then offers him to work as his partner but he refuses. That girl isn’t his type and has a strong knight protecting her. This is all the more reason why Kazuki wants to steal her away.

Episode 16
Mihaya is captured again by the palace. He warns Zen that Kazuki seems to have an accomplice who knows Shirayuki is in Tanbarun now. They were to depart there immediately but Mihaya didn’t want any part of it and escaped. Zen writes a letter to be delivered to Obi. But first he needs to see Izana. Sorry to wake you up from your beauty sleep. Shirayuki accompanies Raj reading at the library. Everyone is shock he has started reading and taking interest in the kingdom’s politics. Rona is of course believing that Shirayuki is the cause of his sudden change. Raj wants to know Shirayuki’s opinion of him about being the prince she can be proud of. I guess she can’t say it. I guess he’ll have to do better. She puts it this way that the next time she visits, she hopes to hear from his people who can speak proudly about him. Rona is plotting to not let Shirayuki leave but is caught by Obi. Raj also finds out and is not impressed. Rona tries to test her suspicions as she pushes Shirayuki towards Obi in which he catches her. Her further shenanigans are halted with Raj sending her back to her room. Raj lets Shirayuki visit his garden and plays violin for her. In a couple of days, Shirayuki will attend the ball before returning to Clarines. She’ll do her best not to lose to him. That night, Obi and Shirayuki talk how time passed so fast and it feels refreshing not to be scolded by Zen for once. Obi is still bothered when he caught Shirayuki. The night of the ball is here but before it officially begins, Zen’s letter arrives. Izana disallowed Zen to head to Tanbarun despite Shirayuki being targeted and using official channels will take too long. Still, there is no reason for a prince to go. Zen is going to go anyway. He reveals he plans to take Shirayuki as his bride. Izana lets him go. However with a condition. If something happens that needs his intervention, he will not allow Shirayuki to set foot in the castle again. By the time Obi finishes reading the letter, Kazuki is already here.

Episode 17
Obi is ready to engage Kazuki but it seems his comrade, Itoya fights him. He could match very well Obi’s move. The twins enter to see the commotion. Obi got distracted and was knocked out. Kazuki puts Shirayuki to sleep as she drops Zen’s watch. They’re gone. The entire castle is on a full search. You can see that Raj is panicking and it’s written all over his face that he is in real sh*t. However Shirayuki is yet to be found. An hour later, Obi wakes up and learns of the situation. The twins blame themselves for the situation but he doesn’t blame them and assures Shirayuki will be back. Zen finally arrives as he goes to see Raj. Obviously that guy is very stiff. Raj is shocked when Zen apologizes. He knew Shirayuki was targeted but only confined the search to Clarines. It was his fault for not informing him. This has Raj apologize for being carless towards his guest. Zen wants to go see Obi but looks like he has fled in pursuit of the kidnappers. Kazuki takes a rest in the forest while Itoya goes to get water. Suddenly Kazuki is being attacked. Zen and the rest discuss about the kidnappers being part of a larger organization. It could be Sea Claw, a group of men and women who do as they please. They are like pirates collecting sea toll and they don’t limit themselves to money but people with talent whom they can use. Zen and Raj are summon by the king of Tanbarun. In light of this event, he gives Zen the power to act using Raj’s authority for the necessary. Raj wants to accompany Zen to help look for Shirayuki. Obi attacks Itoya and gets very violent. However Itoya wants him to hold his horses because he too is in a pinch. It seems Kazuki and Shirayuki have been kidnapped by Sea Claw. Kazuki and Shirayuki wake up in a room. Kazuki hides her as the lady boss, Sea Snake enters. She claims to have taken back Kazuki who fled her crew and will make him continue to work for her. As they have been watching him, they know those mountain dwellers and interested in the red head. If they use her, they can lure that person out. She leaves after she warns Shirayuki she isn’t going to go home anymore. Kazuki explains to Shirayuki how they were kidnapped (basically the kidnapper got kidnapped) and that they need to escape this place before it gets really bad but if this is a ship, everything is over.

Episode 18
Checking their surroundings, they believe they are on a ship but since it is not moving, they could be anchored near shore. As the door is tightly secured, Shirayuki sees some seeds and wants to use them. When the guards see smoke, they quickly unlock the door to check on the hostage but were knocked out. The seeds when cooked give off a lot of smoke. When they try to escape, Sea Snake stops them. They are forced to watch Sea Snake cruelly torture her men who failed to guard them properly. Zen retrieves the watch and a note left behind by Obi. When Raj joins them, he says they are going to the mountains first. They are going to meet up with an outlaw group known as Mountain Lions. Despite being outlaws, they sometimes fight bandits and clash with Sea Claw. Itoya takes Obi to the Mountain Lions’ hideout where he meets their boss, Mukaze. They prepare to fight the Sea Claw. Zen is able to find Obi because of the stone he is holding (the bird leads them to it). After Mihaya identifies Itoya, Zen wants to know their intention in kidnapping Shirayuki. Itoya explains Kazuki was once from Sea Claw before joining Mountain Lions. As he has good looks, he was often used as decoration. So when he heard Shirayuki having the same fate as him (blame Raj for that), he wanted to take her out from that noble’s reach (yeah, blame Raj for that). But Zen is not amused they still kidnap Shirayuki without asking her feelings. Mukaze stops Itoya from revealing further. Their credibility is that they do not answer to anyone. But since they want to save Shirayuki, maybe they can work together and then pretend never meet. Raj agrees. They head to a town that ‘supports’ Sea Claw. They can’t fight them here as they would be at a disadvantage. Kiki has a suggestion. Sea Claw tortures Kazuki to make him talk why Mountain Lions are interested in Shirayuki but he kept silent. They are then thrown into the room as they prepare to set sail. Shortly, a prisoner is also thrown in the same room with them. It is Kiki! It was her idea to board their ship so Shirayuki has someone better she can trust by pretending to be arrested by them. While Mitsuhide was against this, Kiki wanted Zen to use all he has got to rescue Shirayuki. Mihaya spoke out that he knows Sea Claw’s secret base. When he was a noble, his family often associated with them. Of course, if he wants to be rewarded for more information. Not you Zen, but Raj. He agrees quickly since he often rewards people and wants to settle this as fast as possible. Kiki assures Shirayuki that Zen came for her and this gives her a huge relief.

Episode 19
Kiki hands Shirayuki the stone. Raj is at the port town trying to get the merchants’ help to go after Sea Claw. At first they are sceptical because of his idiotic reputation but when he shows his face and resolve, they change their mind. When Sea Claw spots several ships coming their way, they thought it is the Mountain Lions. Sea Snake wants to use Shirayuki to test her reaction. When the ships get closer, they realize they are merchant ships bearing the navy flag. Raj makes his announcement to Sea Claw that they will not get away with this after kidnapping Shirayuki who bears the title Friend of the Royal Family. This confuses Sea Claw (it should since it is just a made up title by Raj) as she plans to escape and can’t fight this many ships. She is confident she can get away since they are entering a rocky area filled with random whirlpools. Unless you know its current patterns, your ship will get sucked in and get damaged. With the merchant ships turning back, Raj remains defiant and continues to pursue. I think it is out of pure luck he manages to navigate safely. So when Sea Claw think they can rest in their cave hideout, here comes Raj! Ramming his ship into theirs! It’s time for a land fight. Sea Claw is now outnumbered with Zen and co as well as the Mountain Lions navigating the cave mazes to reach here. Sea Snake tries to take Shirayuki as hostage but Obi frees her and lets her run away with Zen. Now that they’re alone together, he hugs her and she cries in his arms. It felt like eternity but they’re finally together. Zen then returns to finish the fight and round up all the Sea Claw members. Kazuki seems to be pushing Mukaze to atone. He hopes they would rest in his village before going back as he wants to apologize for him. Shirayuki is shocked to see Mukaze. It’s her father! Wait! WHAT?!

Episode 20
The Clarines people are taken back to the Mountain Lions’ base to celebrate. Before it starts, Mukaze and Kazuki talk to Zen and Shirayuki privately. Mukaze reveals he is supposed to be officially dead. Shirayuki knew he wasn’t because her grandparents told her. If she has not seen him since young, how did she recognize him? There was one time he visited the bar (incognito) and told her who he was. Amazingly she remembered that face till today. Mukaze recognized her not only because of her red hair. As her father, he recognized her face and voice instantly. Shirayuki’s mom was supposed to wed Mukaze’s brother. But Mukaze ‘stole’ her from him and they eloped to the mountains. Thus Shirayuki was born here. But after mom died shortly, Mukaze deemed it too dangerous for her to grow up here so he sent her to live with her grandparents. When he heard Shirayuki left Tanbarun, he got worried and started looking everywhere. They thought they had to protect her from a certain prince but things got a little out of hand. Kazuki apologizes for all the trouble that has been. Shirayuki then looks for Obi. She knows what he is going to say. He still feels guilty he couldn’t protect her and her soothing words won’t rid him of that. He feels better when she says she would like him to be her bodyguard whenever she visits Tanbarun again. During the party, Mukaze talks alone with Zen. He asks if Shirayuki likes him. A father can tell… What about him then? Zen admits he does. Mukaze swiftly says no! Just kidding! Just wanted to see his reaction. When they retire for the night, Zen is embarrassed to realize Shirayuki heard that. She is red faced too – though, not matching her hair. He sees her off to her room, gives her a hug and shows the watch in his safe hands. It might be broken but at least he got what he wants back. After he puts her to bed, he kisses her while she is fast asleep. Is this counted? Next morning, they leave for the royal palace. You can see the happiness and relief in Raj’s face. They’re staying for the night since Raj reinstated the ball. With Raj dancing with Shirayuki, for once he looks like a real prince. You jealous, Zen? Raj comments she would look better with long hair. She replies if he visits her as a friend, she would be happy to. Next morning, the Clarines people depart for home.

Episode 21
As it is raining, the gang stops by at an inn for shelter. Similarly, a lady named Toro enters looking for the same. Nothing much happening at this point as they bath, talk and eat. During dinner, Toro comes to blatantly flirt with Mitsuhide. She also makes a pass at Zen but passes up on Obi (because he is dangerous looking). Later when Obi and Toro are outside alone, turns out they know each other as old acquaintances. Toro tries to reign in Obi to help her in a job to look for someone. She is supposed to bring some rich noble kid who ran away from home back but the rain dampened her tracking. Obi reluctantly agrees seeing it is just restricted to the night. They manage to find the kid taking refuge at an abandoned building. I guess the reason Toro ‘hired’ Obi is to take care of a guard the kid hired. Yeah, Obi didn’t even lift a finger to ‘defeat’ this clumsy guard. The kid should hire better people. It’s Toro’s turn to get the kid as he tries to bribe her. She won’t fall for that and after a little scolding, the kid agrees to go back with her. Too easy. I’m not sure where the other guard was but he returns trying to take on Toro. Though she easily defeats him, she slips on the puddle and falls off. Had not Obi caught her, she would have sustained a lot more injuries. So they talk about their old times together and she thought they should get back together but Obi isn’t interested. They are surprised when Zen and co are here looking for him. Though he left a note he was going out, they were suspicious. They know where to find him because Kiki noticed lights in an abandoned building. A perfect place for Obi to be. With Zen ‘scolding’ Obi to be more self-aware, I guess he can’t brush off his light injuries and let Shirayuki treat it. Next morning, they continue their journey home. Obi is certain everyone won’t see Toro again since he isn’t interested in going back to his old self.

Episode 22
Zen is going to have more work cut out for him when he returns. Seems Izana has laid out a list of possible candidates for his marriage interview! Initially Zen doesn’t seem interested especially in looking for a wife now despite Haruka’s reminder he must at least see to one to show he hasn’t abandoned the thought of marriage. But when he sees a name on the list, he seems to be interested in doing this just once. Can you guess who that is? If you say Shirayuki (like yours truly), WRONG! It’s Kiki! Who’d knew she is the daughter of an earl. Plus, Zen sought a favour from her to help him out with this so he could ‘run away’ from this marriage thingy a little longer. He promises to keep her name a secret to the public. So the entire palace is abuzz with this marriage meeting despite not knowing who the girl is. There’s this flashback when Mitsuhide and Kiki first met, outside a ball they aren’t used to. She didn’t introduce herself properly. The next time he meets her sparring with Zen, he couldn’t recognize her and thought she was a guy! After the marriage meeting, it’s back to the usual work for Zen. But when he hears how Obi did see Shirayuki but not tell her it was Kiki whom Zen was with, did Zen have to be this devastated? I thought it was supposed to be a secret? What circumstances is he talking about? So he rushes over to her just to explain about it. She understands and although she was nervous about it, she thought Zen would eventually come to tell her everything. Shirayuki hints she thought of wanting to go see him. He apologizes for being selfish as he holds her hand. That night, Izana talks to Zen that he was the one who recommended Kiki’s name. Then he says he will soon get married and in time it will be Zen’s turn. The thing is the decisions he has to make as the people are putting their hopes on him as the second prince. This has Zen confirming he wants Shirayuki as his wife and has no intention of leaving her behind. Izana says to convince him the path he takes with her is worth supporting.

Episode 23
A maid accidentally drops a rug. Because Zen is deep in his thoughts, he couldn’t avoid in time. This causes him some pain in the neck although it is not serious. Well, he just can’t move his neck. As Mitsuhide goes to look for Garak, he accidentally spills a potion and starts feeling weird. When he returns to Zen, suddenly he is like a new character! Strictly upright and formal! It is discovered that Mitsuhide accidentally smelled a medicine with hypnotizing effect. It doesn’t do any physical harm and should wear off but while in effect, it looks like his hidden side of him as surfaced to take control over him. Although Shirayuki applies some medicine to heal it, Mitsuhide gets more annoying as he puts emphasis on curing Zen and puts it upon himself to always protect Zen. Yeah, I guess this means Mitsuhide literally becomes a bigger pain in the neck for Zen as he follows him everywhere! Even making a big fuss off a puddle ahead! Don’t get me started on that nagging about his duty schedule. No wonder Zen wants to run away from him! If that isn’t weird enough, Mitsuhide somewhat becomes a gentleman too. Accidentally bumping into Kiki, he tries to be all gentlemanly about it but she gets annoyed and slaps him! And after a few days, Mitsuhide is still in this character! Wow. Really pain in the neck. One day at the library, an accident that causes the books to fall over Zen and Shirayuki, Mitsuhide swiftly protects them. No one was injured. I guess Zen gives in to his stubbornness and wants Shirayuki to help find a cure instead of waiting for the effects to wear off. And after all the hard work, Mitsuhide reverts back to normal. However he has no memories during his hypnotized times, making Zen mad. Obi took the liberty to record down all the things he said. The embarrassing ones like the one with Kiki. After Shirayuki submits her report, Garak passes her. Her apprenticeship ends and is now officially a court herbalist. Heck, she has been here for so long I thought she was already one a long time ago.

Episode 24
Shirayuki is surprised Mihaya visits her in the greenhouse. She learns he has become a citizen of Tanbarun after he exchanged information that led to the arrest of more Sea Claw members. His reward also means he has a status of a noble and theoretically the head of a viscount family. He is here as a messenger of Tanbarun. Shirayuki is called before the Clarines princes. Sakaki is here on behalf of Raj to give her a pendant. It bears the title Friend of the Royal Family. So he went on to make that real… This now makes her a dignitary and allows her to visit Tanbarun whenever she wishes. After Sakaki leaves, Izana can’t help laugh his heart out. But he is now relieved since he once considered her by Zen’s side to tarnish his image, with this title they can mention her friendship without issue. Izana then throws her a hard question: What does she want to be with Zen. She is left speechless. Later Sakaki personally gives Shirayuki a letter from Raj addressing to his first true friend. That night she can’t sleep thinking about Izana’s words. Zen rushes to her side. She continues since the day she confessed she loves him and help him by his side. This has not changed till today. The same for Zen. She really loves him and wants to be by his side. He hugs her and reminds her not to rush. Then he kisses her neck. Then the lips. She gets weak in the knees so he carries her up to the rooftop where they can be alone and admire the garden (only, their retainers saw them and decide to leave them alone). So more romantic words and Zen promising he’ll say the proper words one day. Now he kisses her cheek. Man, he kissed almost everywhere on her top today. Next day as the see off Sakaki, Shirayuki hands him her reply letter to Raj. Sakaki and Mihaya hint that if there is a chance arise, they would try to come to their side. Everyone returns to their respective work.

Snow White With Red Hair And Heart Of Gold
And they continued living happily ever after… So to speak. Well, it was a nice and pure romantic fairytale I have seen in quite a while without anything oh so controversial. Not ever since I read children fairytales since I was young. Oh wait. Did I ever really read as a kid? Anyway, so my only little peeve is that Shirayuki didn’t become a princess as I was expecting as read from the series’ title. I know it’s absurd. I also know it would be too much of a rush and destroying the 2 dozen worth of episodes that have built up everything nicely if they were to somehow make her engaged to Zen in the end. Though it is very highly likely in the future, it isn’t yet in the context in this anime. So the farthest she has been being a princess is in a play and being carried like one… I guess that’s close enough. Well, at least being a noble status now is better than where she started off as just strangers. But I’m sure she is already a princess in the hearts of those she touched.

The entire premise of the series can either be boring or interesting depending on your tastes in such stories. It is a mix and in between for me. After having watched countless of ‘corrupted’ and controversial anime series and only a handful of ‘healing’ ones, it is hard for me to say that I was totally absorbed into the main plot of the overall series. Honestly, the whole thing is to put it bluntly, just boring. It is actually nothing that special and only so because Shirayuki attracts attention by just being a girl with red hair. Had she had normal hair colour like other citizens, she would not have walked down this path in her life. But once you get used to her red hair, it becomes so normal that you won’t even realize it. So you can see that for whatever ‘drama’ aside from the budding romance between our main protagonists is because of her red hair. Therefore I find the second season whereby Shirayuki getting kidnapped as by far the most interesting plot of it all. Don’t get me wrong. It is not like I wish to see something really bad happen to Shirayuki and I have confidence she can take care of herself in such situations. It is just that Shirayuki being taken away and being separated from Zen for the longest time sounds more interesting considering the pace of this series. Something more interesting than the usual ‘boring’ drama that usually happens behind the castle walls ever since she takes residence in the palace.

While the series is heart-warming, has good pacing and great development on its main characters, the thing that ‘ruins’ my joy is to realize at the end of it all that this is just fairytale. Yes, fairytales are supposed to have a happy ending. Living in today’s era and reality filled with impatience, bad tempers and instant angry rage, watching something so goody-goody like this is just unbelievable. Especially when you take into account the royal family of Clarines and their subordinates are actually one hell of a bloody good people. I mean, where do such good and kind-hearted royal people exist? Only in fairytales, right? Yeah… Don’t get me wrong again. I love those in power who takes great care of its people. But from where I come from and having to face reality each time I finish watching anime of the fantasy genre, that switch is just what makes it depressing. In today’s politically correct world, the goodness of what Izana, Zen and Shirayuki preach feels like as though they are virtue signalling. However they have every right to it because they walk the talk and stay true to their ideals. Yeah, it made me realize how I’m not such a great person after all…

This brings me to the characters of the series. Those who love great development especially romance between the main characters would be delighted to see it heavily concentrated on Zen and Shirayuki here. You’ll know they will definitely click when they first met (aside from because of the plot) and it really takes its time and pacing to build it into where it is. It is nice to see how to duo use their talents and abilities instead of their position to overcome whatever obstacles in their way. Both are strong, independent and level headed. An eye opener that would leave you admiring them in the decisions they make as they stay true to their ideals. They do not stoop low or bend their principals, that is why we respect them and eventually they grow on us and we wish to support them till they lead a happily ever after life. I am tempted to say that scepticism of reality has made their good character traits feel unbelievable. But I have to remind myself this is fantasy and just a story. Leave reality out of it! Can we just simply enjoy the goodness of Zen and Shirayuki alone? That they are truly nice and good people? Yeah, I wish Shirayuki could be my waifu but considering the kind of person I am… Too high standards… People like Zen should rightfully be deserving of her. I didn’t keep count but I have a feeling they kissed more times than I expected them too… I know it is a must in romance genres but it feels like as though a reminder of how much they love each other. Duh…

The other supporting casts like Mitsuhide, Kiki and Obi aren’t too shabby either. Over the course of both seasons, we have a glimpse of their background and origins although it isn’t really too deep so as not to distract us from the main focus of Zen x Shirayuki. You sense that Obi has secret feelings for Shirayuki and might have thoughts about other pairings like Mitsuhide x Kiki or Obi x Kiki but when it comes down to it, nothing gets in the way of Zen x Shirayuki. They are loyal subordinates to Zen and Shirayuki but I find Kiki a bit to be like a robot since she lacks emotions and doesn’t show much facial expressions. I think she would look better if she smiles more often. But then again, it might be creepy and not the Kiki we all have come to be accustomed to. Yes, she does smile but not on a regular and normal basis.

Izana might sound like he has an ulterior motive because of the way he sounds. A bit condescending and prideful. It is like he can turn into an evil character the next second. But remember, as the first prince of Clarines, he has responsibilities and duties to fulfil. He might not know Shirayuki as well as Zen so you can see why he is initially cautious so as not to bring ruin. Imagine if the royal family is brought down by an outsider woman. With red hair. It will be the curse of the century. Otherwise, Izana is a very wise person whom you’ll want as king for your kingdom. I believe Izana isn’t as sceptical as he is towards Shirayuki at the end although I still find he is. After all, who is Shirayuki to him? Thus I think it is wise for him to still keep his distance and in a way helps Shirayuki to be on her toes and not be too complacent. Not that she will but being with Zen and co for so long, there is that danger of falling into that comfort zone and assuming things.

The other big improvement is Raj. Initially starting out as a sleazebag and a useless prince, he regains his honour in the second season. Though he has definitely become a much better person, there is still room for more improvement assuming he is to be able to stand at the same status and respect as Zen. Raj isn’t entirely a bad person but he gets too comfortable taking advantage of his position as Tanbarun’s prince. But if you think about it and all the events that transpired, Raj’s first move to force Shirayuki to be his concubine is a blessing in disguise. Her runaway to Clarines changed her destiny. She became a better person and I am sure she too affected Zen and co to become better persons (noticed how Zen stops sneaking out frequently ever since Shirayuki came?) and in turn of it all, Raj himself reflects and becomes a better person. So all is not that bad.

One thing I want to point out is how the series focuses on these few main and supporting characters but many of them are confined within the walls of the palace. This means we don’t really get to see the daily ordinary lives of the kingdom’s citizens. I mean, we do but not so much in focus and usually because our main characters are passing through or something. Otherwise, a big bulk of the scenes in the series (except during Shirayuki’s kidnapping incident) are mostly taking place inside the palace grounds. So how do you know if your people is doing well or not? Remember what I said about the royal family here being very good people? This means we don’t have to worry about their wellbeing as I am very sure everyone is as happy as prosperous as they are so long the royal family doesn’t become corrupted. You don’t see anybody protesting or suffering, right? No wonder there is this small running joke that a guard at the gates sometimes feels bored with his duty… Well, let’s hope peace reigns forever here.

I blame myself for expecting Ryu to have some sort of major supporting role like Mitsuhide, Kiki and Obi. Thinking he is a court herbalist and a genius at his age, there must be some sort of issue too, right? Well, not really. That poison testing subject wasn’t really an issue if you think about it. So he is just a sleepy looking kid lacking emotions (is his face stuck like this with this expression forever?) supervising Shirayuki during her apprenticeship. Rona and Yujina bring some moe kawaii factor with Rona trying to a young matchmaker for Raj. It is hard to say for me if Raj eventually has genuine feelings for Shirayuki. Because it feels like a running joke that this guy is always worrying first the implications and consequences that Zen will drop his justice hammer the slightest wrongdoing he does to Shirayuki. After all, he has been warned. Once bitten, twice shy. So how can he waste time thinking about falling for Shirayuki when each time he thinks of her, Zen’s face pops up! Maybe when he matures more and becomes more respectable he can start thinking of that.

Art and animation are pretty decent if not beautiful. I guess from an ‘ordinary’ fantasy genre, the characters do have that bishoujo and bishonen look. Yeah, only in fairytales and especially anime where you find good looking people all around. Even mini antagonists like Sea Snake looks smoking hot or the seemingly plain Obi looks good in his own right. Because like I said this is an ‘ordinary’ fantasy genre in the sense that there is literally no magic or dangerous magical beasts to fight or exotic locations like floating islands. It just feels like fictitious kingdoms, take away all sort of modern technology, put characters in fancy costumes and voila! You have what you can call a fantasy genre. Not that I’m complaining, though. This series is animated by Bones who have produced lots of popular animes like Soul Eater, Ouran Koukou Host Club, Fullmetal Alchemist, Noragami, Boku No Hero Academia, Kekkai Sensen and Mob Psycho 100.

Saori Hayami is perfect as Shirayuki. Because of her husky voice that isn’t your typical high pitch girly girl type, it makes Shirayuki believable and have sense of impressiveness. I mean, imagining her character sounding squeaky feels like it wouldn’t cut it. Other recognizable seiyuus are Jun Fukuyama as Raj, Nobuhiko Okamoto as Obi, Akira Ishida as Izana, Yuko Kaida as Garak and Nana Mizuki (yes, I caught you there in cameo) as Toro. The rest of the other casts are Ryota Ohsaka as Zen (Marco in Shingeki No Kyojin), Yuichiro Umehara as Mitsuhide (Charioce in Shingeki No Bahamut: Virgin Soul), Kaori Nazuka as Kiki (Nunally in Code Geass series), Yuko Sanpeia as Ryu (Sasha in Seikon No Qwaser), Tomoyuki Shimura as Haruka (Nakai in Bakuman), Katsuyuki Konishi as Sakaki (Oga in Beelzebub), Chiwa Saito as Kiharu (Kirie in Girls Bravo), Sachi Kokuryu as Kazuki (Shirou in Tsugumomo), Tohru Okawa as Mukaze (Roy in Fullmetal Alchemist), Shintarou Asanuma as Itoya (Tsuda in Seitokai No Yakuindomo), Mitsuki Saiga as Sea Snake (Phantom in MAR), Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Mihaya (Tsukumo in Nanbaka), Inori Minase as Rona (Chino in Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka) and Mikako Komatsu as Yujina (Kanae in ClassicaLoid).

The opening themes for both seasons are sung by Saori Hayami. At least here she sounds decent compared to the songs she sang in Fukumenkei Noise. While the first season’s opening theme, Yasashii Kibou sounds pretty decent, I find that the second season’s Sono Koe Ga Chizu Ni Naru fares worse. The former might sound like a generic pop but it does fit in nicely with the pacing and theme of the series. At least it opens with a calming piano play. However the latter sounds a bit dramatic, something I feel doesn’t fit the overall feel of the series. It’s not entirely bad but I just prefer the first one. The same can almost be said for both the ending themes, both sung by Eyelis. Kizuna Ni Nosete and Page~Kimi To Tsuzuru Monogatari have this dramatic feel to it which I feel doesn’t fit the overall feel despite not that bad. Yeah, so my personal thoughts for a fitting song for this anime would be a slow romantic ballad. Oh well, it is not that this entire anime focuses on the romance of Zen and Shirayuki 24/7.

Overall, this is a very nice and enjoyable romance fairytale where you can watch how true romance blossoms over time between 2 people coming from very different background. A fairytale that doesn’t stray too far away from its fantasy genre with uncomplicated and relatively relaxing plots as well as interesting and likeable characters. No twisted and grim fairytale versions to scar your childhood memories, that’s for sure. If you have outgrown children’s fairytales like the original Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel (yeah, they all have Disney adaptations to it), this series feels more like a proper for teens and adults. Who wouldn’t love a good fairytale where the beautiful girl marries the handsome prince? Who wouldn’t love a good fairytale where they live happily ever after among the people of their happy kingdom? Yes, we can all dream. But eventually we all have to wake up… Now why do I have to go spoil that happily ever after mood?

Shingeki No Kyojin S2

October 28, 2017

OMG! OMG! OMG!!! Yattekita! IT’S FINALLY HERE! Yeah, sounded like I have waited my entire life for the release of Shingeki No Kyojin S2. That epic man versus Titan was just too awesome to not have any sequel. Though, it did get a little setback of getting delayed. However all is forgiven and a distant memory since it is now here. Sorry can’t stay long to chat. Need to find out more epic and awesomeness this season has to offer. Hype! Hype! HYPE!!!

Episode 26
Starting off from where we left off last season, after Annie’s crystallization, everyone is shocked to see a Titan’s face behind a broken portion of a the wall. Minister Nick hurriedly tells Hange to cover it up before the sunrays hit it. After doing so, Hange hounds him for answers. It is a matter of life and death. Because he will not speak, she threatens to throw him off the wall. Nick is willing to die in that case. Hange of course can’t kill him. It’s not over yet because a messenger returns with a horrifying message that Titans are spotted inside Wall Rose. Flashback 12 hours earlier at the south of Wall Sina, some of the new recruits of the Survey Corps (Connie, Sasha, Reiner, Bertolt, etc) are bored being detained under suspicions that they may have this Titan transformation too. At first nobody believes Sasha when she heard thumping footsteps. Then their worst fears come true: Titans are spotted inside Wall Rose. Mike gathers the newbies and knows they aren’t the culprits. Their mission now is to split into teams and warn all the village in the vicinity. Sasha’s home is nearby as she volunteers to go. Connie is in shock because his village is at the south where the Titans are believed to have breached. Reiner will go with Connie to check out the southern village. As the teams separate, Mike goes to buy them time by facing the Titans. Eren just woke up from his slumber. Sorry no time to waste because Armin just reports the wall breach. Mike has managed to slay a few Titans. However he notices there is one very different Titan. Yeti Titan?! When Mike calls for his horse, Yeti Titan suddenly grabs it and throws it at him! He loses his balance and is about to be eaten by Titans. But what is most shocking is how Yet Titan can speak!!! He is asking about his 3DMD. Mike is too scared and in shock to speak. Yeti Titan turns away as he takes Mike’s 3DMD. Mike goes crazy trying to kill it but that is when all the other Titans devour and tear him apart. Rip and RIP Mike.

Episode 27
Eren and co along with Levi move out. Hange brings Nick with him in hopes after seeing with his own eyes the horrifying reality might change his mind to speak. Threats do not work and it seems this secret is a lot more important than the fate of humanity. Sasha returns home after a long while. She came from a group of hunters and was always fighting with her dad who scolded her for stealing food (there wasn’t enough to go around, at least not for her). With the shrinking forest area and less animals to hunt, father wanted to sell the land and the family to give up hunting. The world has changed. However Sasha was bent to keep the ways of her ancestors so father reminded her that she is free to live the way she wants. But just remember when you turn your back on others, you also lose the right to look to them for help. Now Sasha is back after 3 years and wonders if her family really bothered about looking for her when she was away. Sasha sees a Titan eating a mother and her daughter nearby in shock. Sasha tries to attack the Titan but when that fails, she takes the girl and run. Flashback shows Ymir chided her for putting up a stupid act and acting dumb. She should be real to herself. Sasha lets the girl run while she faces off with the Titan equipped with only bow and limited arrows. She makes her shots count by temporarily blinding it. When she runs, she stumbles into a pack of hunters. Her dad. That girl came across them and told them there was still someone left behind. Now they are going around to give horses to everyone to escape. Connie reaches his village. He is devastated to see it destroyed. Even more so when a Titan turned turtle over his home. It’s not dead. It cannot move. How did it even get into this position?

Episode 28
As the village is void of people, everyone deduces they might have escaped. But Gelgar finds it odd if so, why did the Titans stay back to destroy the buildings? Even odder, the horses are still in the stable. They now move on to locate the breach in Wall Rose. Connie suddenly hears the Titan welcoming home. Oh no. Could this Titan be his mom?! When he tries to tell Reiner about it, he is told off not to be selfish and think about his own family. Nanaba, Krista and Ymir are also trying to locate to the wall breach. Ymir wants to withdraw instead of becoming Titan snacks but Nanaba needs somebody to return and report. Krista tells Ymir to stop pandering to her. She joined Survey Corps on her own. Noticing Ymir is always doing things for her, is it because of her family’s history? Ymir admits it is but assures she is also here on her own accord. Gelgar and Nanaba’s group surprisingly come into each other. They are shocked that neither have found any wall breach. Could they have missed it? Missed any Titan size hole? Not possible. With the moonlight out, they see a castle nearby to rest themselves as well as their horses. Levi notices Hange looking at a rock. She says this is the hard skin that Annie dropped that did not evaporate. She studied it and found it has the same properties as the wall. It is safe to say there are Titans behind walls. Hange is thinking unless they can find a boulder to plug up the breach, the only way is for Eren to use his hardened skin to seal the wall. Armin suggests moving at night where Titans do not move freely. This job might be a lot of pressure for Eren but he has no choice but to do it and succeed. Nick sees all the depressed people, people who have lost something, people whom the church have abandoned. He becomes dejected but Levi tells him not so fast. So is he ready to talk? We still can’t say… This is too much of a burden for a single person. However he can share the name of a person whom they are instructed to watch over: Krista. She may be able to tell them truths that they even do not know. Reiner is shocked when he learns something from Ymir. However everyone gets a rude awakening as the castle is besieged by Titans! Where did they come from? How are they moving at night? And there’s that Yeti Titan…

Episode 29
A couple of hours ago, Connie told everyone about the situation about his village. When he said that Titan over his house reminded him of his mum, Ymir laughed and mocked how stupid he sounded. She went as far as to say if both his parents were Titans, how the heck did they have sex?! Later as Ymir scavenges the castle for food, Reiner thanks her for that talk to distract Connie and hopes she could continue doing it. Reiner is shocked when Ymir can read an unknown language on a can food. That’s when the Titans attack. While the seniors move out to take them down, a smaller Titan has entered the castle. Reiner and co fight it by slamming the whole cannon and pinning it down. Reiner saves Connie from a Titan. However it bites Reiner’s arm. He then carries it to throw it out the window! Its strong jaws won’t let go so Connie uses his knife to weaken its jaw muscles before Ymir kicks it down. The seniors seem to have killed quite a lot of Titans. But Yeti Titan throws rocks at the castle, instantly killing a couple of them. Worst nightmare comes true when even more Titans are seen coming. Gelgar and Nanaba are out of gas and blades. Gelgar is injured, fast losing consciousness and succumbs to his fate. Nanaba tries to save him but it’s all in vain. They get eaten. With the Titans trying to bring down the castle, it is only a matter of time. Ymir warns Krista not to do a suicide mission. Don’t waste your life dying a heroic death. She wants her to remember a promise they made at the snowy mountains. She borrows Connie’s knife and then jumps off. As she slashes her wrist, she turns into a Titan!

Episode 30
Flashback during Eren and co’s training regimen. They were doing some trekking in the winter. Eren is worried and wants to go back and look for Krista because she along with Ymir stayed back to help a fallen comrade, Daz. They thought they would be in the last team but it seems they aren’t. With the blizzard building up, the instructors disallow them to go out and risk getting stranded. Krista drags Daz as Ymir thinks this is futile as he is already half dead. Either they save themselves or die with him. But Krista is adamant to save him and Ymir should go ahead. But Ymir is puzzled. Why has she not asked her to help? She deduces she has no intention of saving Daz and wants to die looking like a hero. Ymir knows Krista’s past as an illegitimate heiress who was nearly executed. She overheard a few priests talking about this succession problem by killing her. However they decided that she should change her name and live a normal life. That’s how she ended up here. But Ymir didn’t join it to find her or be her friend. Unlike her, Ymir isn’t going to change her name otherwise they win. The only way to get her revenge is to live her life to the fullest. So why is Krista trying to kill herself and make everyone who ruined her life happy? Ymir has another idea. Throw Daz down the cliff and hope some passing soldier pick him up. Since Krista is still stubborn, Ymir throws her aside and does the job herself. When Krista tries to find them, they’re gone. Eren and co are trying to sneak out to find them. So they’re tagging along to avoid the other from being missing? But no need to. They see somebody coming from the distance. By the time Krista reached the camp, Ymir is already waiting there for her. What happened to Daz? He lives and everyone is treating him inside. Krista realizes Ymir might have jumped down that high cliff. Even if she had a rope, it is still too high. Ymir doesn’t mind telling her secret but in exchange she wants Krista to take back her old name and live.

As Ymir tries to kill the Titans, everyone is shocked to find she is a Titan. Especially Reiner and Bertolt who remembers her as that same Titan who devoured their friend when they were young. Asked if Krista knew Ymir was a Titan, she doesn’t. They discuss if Ymir who unlike Eren didn’t know he had Titan powers, could she have known them along but kept it a secret? Krista tries to get through Ymir by chiding her to die protecting this tower (because she could have just run away and abandoned them instead of fighting off the hordes to protect this tower). She warns her not to die because if so, might as well collapse this damn tower. Ymir actually does that! But she lets her friends hang on as the tower collapses onto the Titans. Of course that won’t be enough to kill them. Ymir returns to fight the Titans but they all gang up to devour her. Krista rushes to her side as she hasn’t told her real name yet. At this point you might think Krista and co will also meet their doom. But we should know better. Here comes Mikasa and co slicing and dicing them to save the day! Once the killings are done, everyone is shocked to know Ymir is a Titan. Now she is in her human form but a few limbs torn off. Krista whispers to Ymir her real name: Historia Reiss. Ymir has this calm smiling look on her face as she closes her eyes.

Episode 31
Ymir would have died if she was a normal person. Yup, she isn’t dead despite losing limbs and her internal organs roasted. Talking to Hange, she believes Ymir might have known something all along but refused to speak up so as not to put herself at risk. But she has now changed. After turning into a Titan and saving them, Ymir is on their side. Hange hopes so. Mankind’s future depends on it. Eren talks to Reiner who is in depression after nearly being killed by a Titan. Bertolt tries to cheer him up that they are close in returning to their hometown. Reiner agrees but this leaves Eren confused. When Hannes returns, he says that no holes in the wall were spotted. Everyone is in shock. Don’t tell me the Titans are digging underground! As everyone prepares to return to Trost, Reiner pulls Eren over to talk. He reveals he is the Armoured Titan while Bertolt is the Colossal Titan!!! Their mission is to destroy mankind. If Eren comes with them now, they don’t have to destroy the walls anymore. Eren is confused. When Sasha returned with a message regarding Annie’s background check, it revealed 2 name from the same Training Corps from her same area: Reiner and Bertolt. During the expedition using Erwin’s new formation, each unit was given different information about the whereabouts of other units. It could mean that his position was given away for the Female Titan to attack Eren’s wing (which turned out to be Armin’s wing instead). Armin then remembers Reiner asking him about Eren’s whereabouts then. After Reiner broke free from the Female Titan’s clutches, she instantly ran off in Eren’s direction. Could it be that Reiner carved a message on her hand as she was seen staring at it. For now, Hange didn’t want them to catch on their suspicions and to avoid mentioning Annie’s name. Eren tries to change the subject that the stress has gotten to him. This makes Reiner go crazy. He thinks he has been living around idiots long enough. He can’t tell what is wrong or right anymore. He is going to face his consequences as a warrior. The wound on his arm suddenly heals as he tells Bertolt they’re going to do it now. Instantly Mikasa tries to cut them down. However the duo turn into their respective Titans. They try to kidnap Eren and Ymir. Eren must have realized that trying to believe everyone is his batch trying to play good is good. He’s done with that. Calling Reiner a traitor, Eren also transforms into a Titan.

Episode 32
The Colossal Titan swallows Ymir and another soldier. Hange orders the Titans to be killed as saving them for interrogation is pointless now. Although the Colossal Titan moves slow, the rest think they can easily cut its back. However it unleashes hot steam that prevents them from get closer. Then it just sits there unleashing all those steam. Since there is nothing they can do, Hange orders the several units to keep watch until it shows an opening to attack. It can’t stay like this forever and will have to come out. Hange and her team go fight the Armoured Titan. Speaking of which, Eren is getting owned by its strength. He thinks back of always looking up to Reiner and aspiring to be like him. He is now so disappointed with all that has happened. Especially that fateful day when his mom was killed. He now hates those traitors. But being angry doesn’t make him do anything better as he still gets overwhelmed by its strength. Not even Mikasa’s blades can put a scratch. Basically the entire body is armoured. More flashbacks of Eren’s training during Training Corps with Annie. Despite she was weaker than him, she managed to overpower him using his own strength. Plus, she didn’t give him room to give up despite Eren wanting to quit the mock sparring. She wanted him to learn that technique. However if you still remember Mikasa being an overprotective stalker of Eren then, she confronted Annie and wanted to lean that technique. That’s sarcasm. And so the strongest fighters of their batch faced off… Who won? Well, Eren can’t remember so we don’t get to know who? I guess this flashback is necessary so Eren is able to use Annie’s technique to bring the Armoured Titan down with his grappling moves. He manages to do some cracks in his armour and tear off an arm. Eren manages to control his sanity in this form as he is able to listen to his comrades’ orders. They want him to stay away from Reiner as it is their plan to kidnap him. But they won’t let him go so easily. The Armoured Titan breaks off a few chunks in its armour to move faster and tackle Eren down. Mikasa is able to slice a ligament to make it lose its footing. Eren tries to break its neck but the Armoured Titan seems to be dragging him to a spot despite its unfavourable position. Then it screams as a signal for the Colossal Titan to fall over them.

Episode 33
After the Colossal Titan crashes down, the Armoured Titan rips out Eren. Bertolt slips out and takes Ymir with him and hitches on the Armoured Titan as he escapes. We finally get to see Jean. He is hanging out with the Military Police who is also being sent to the frontlines for the search. They even joke Levi is hiding the Titans when they went out to search. Sorry guys. You’re just unlucky today for not seeing any Titans. A messenger returns to report to Erwin about the no breach in the wall as well as the shocking development of 3 more soldiers can turn into Titans. Many of the soldiers who were caught in the Colossal Titan’s steam are seriously injured including Hange and Mikasa. Mikasa dreams of a time when Eren was bullied (he tried to fight back to get back Armin’s bread) so she went to beat them up. Eren didn’t want to lose out to a girl and continued fighting. Eventually they damaged a stall and the owner got into a fight with Hannes since his drunk ass refused to do anything since it’s just a kid’s fight. It was really messy. Even when the bullies ran away, Eren continued chasing them. Mikasa wakes up and is appalled to know what happened to Eren. Don’t look at me with those eyes! Then Armin explains to her (with those eyes) how nobody went to chase him because the horses are on the other side of the wall and many of their comrades are injured and it will take time for reinforcements to come. They feel helpless. Eren was always like running ahead and leaving them behind. Hannes tries to cheer them up that Eren will be Eren as he will not give up without a fight despite being a poor fighter. He loves those boring old days and will do anything to get it back. But things won’t go back the way they used to unless all 3 of them are together. That fired them up. By this time, Erwin leads his Survey Corps as well as the Military Police with lots of equipment for their hunt. Before they go, Hange tells them the nearby forest Reiner and Bertolt might be heading first. She figures that after that titanic fight, they are tired out and need to sleep (just like in Annie’s case). Because there are Titans who might target them, they would want to play safe and wait it out till nightfall at this forest before moving outside of Wall Maria. Therefore their only chance of saving Eren and Ymir is to reach the forest before nightfall.

Episode 34
Eren and Ymir might lack limbs but they’re regenerating very slowly. Eren thinks of still transforming to fight them but Ymir stops him. Look around. There are Titans below them and some odd ones just creepily starring at them. Even if Eren transforms, can he easily get away in his weakened state? Eren is forced to control his emotions as he needs to gather more information. He is in the dark about everything unlike them. When Reiner starts thinking about how hard they have been working and should be eligible for promotion, I guess Eren loses it. So much about staying calm. Ymir forces them to say it since they’ve been acting strange especially Bertolt who is just remaining silent all the while. Bertolt then speaks. He reminds Reiner they are warriors, not soldiers. It causes Reiner to go crazy. Some vague flashback Reiner perhaps saw Marco getting eaten. Ymir deduces that they might have some sort of split personality disorder. They infiltrated to destroy mankind but became conflicted when they become soldiers. They have been doing this for so long that they are unable to tell which identity is real. Thus to maintain their sanity, they keep convincing themselves as soldiers protecting the wall. Eren is not impressed. It’s like they’re playing the victim card. He told them how his mom was killed and you can say they are the cause of it. What were they thinking when he told them about it? They just felt sorry about it. Eren loses it again calling them murderers. A shouting contest erupts between him and Reiner. Shout all he wants. It’s not going to change anything. He promises to give them the most horrible death but Ymir calls that as childish and won’t get him anywhere. Ymir asks about the Yeti Titan because they looked fascinated when they first saw him. She deduces they want to bring Eren to him so they can get back home. Before Ymir could tell Eren the real enemy, Reiner stops her and wants her to think before she speaks about the world if it is worth saving. Reiner wants Ymir to join them and knows her reason to exist is to protect Krista. They too would want to protect her. So does she think Eren can do a better job in protecting her? Even if she comes with them, her safety isn’t guaranteed but they assure they can do something to save Krista. Which is more important? Your own measly life or Krista’s future? Ymir zips her mouth and doesn’t say anything more to Eren. Then they spot flares from Survey Corps in the distance.

Episode 35
Reiner and Bertolt discuss they have to trust Ymir since they all want to save Krista (her family is affiliated with the church) and if Eren isn’t the Coordinate, they’ll have to come back here again. Bertolt just wants to end this so they don’t have to come back here again. They can take Annie, Krista and something else home. Reiner agrees but wants Bertolt to confess his feelings to Annie after that. Reiner tries to get Eren but the latter looks comical trying to throw weak punches with his handless arms. Bertolt asks Ymir if she remembers eating anyone before she became human. She doesn’t. He doesn’t blame her. None of them did. Possibly Eren too. And something about her wandering about outside the walls for 60 years too. As they flee, Ymir realizes the Survey Corps are closing in. She believes Krista is with them and wants Reiner to take this chance to get her. However he claims the odds aren’t in their favour and will have to come back for her. Ymir is not convinced. It’s like she is lying to herself again. Flashback reveals her first lie. She was plucked from a homeless child to become the queen of some cult just because they think she has some king’s blood. She didn’t mind as she got to eat well, sleep well and people worshipping her. Life was good. Then one day, the police barged in to arrest them all. Some followers blamed her for misleading her. At first she was scared but decided to lie again in hopes of saving them. It didn’t turn out too well. The outside people hated them and they were deemed for execution. After being pushed off the wall, she thought how all this was her punishment for being told to deceive all those people.

She became a Titan and started wandering before lying dormant throughout the years till she is buried. When she wakes up, she attacked Reiner’s group and ate his friend. The next time she comes to, she realizes the freedom of this world and decided to live her life without lying. So she became a petty thief? Then she heard and met Krista. She could tell right away she was the same as her, lying to herself and desperately trying to convince herself of something. Though she doesn’t blame her, she hopes to be given one more chance to be honest with herself. Ymir causes a commotion as she forces Reiner to give in to her demands to go back for Krista or she will stop playing along with his game. She believes her Titan form is able to move freely amidst the forests despite she will still be weaker than them. She admits she wants to see her one last time before she dies even if it means ruining her future. The Survey Corps have reached the forests. They avoid fighting with the other Titans as their priority is to find and locate their enemy. Mikasa and co stumble into Ymir in Titan form. Connie tries to ask her questions about Eren’s whereabouts or if she had fought and escaped from Reiner. However Ymir is acting strangely and looking around. When Krista comes into the picture, Ymir immediately eats her and swings away. The rest are stunned that they have been fooled and start chasing. Once Ymir returns to Reiner at the edge of the forest, he transforms into the Armoured Titan and the rest latch on to him as he continues his run. The Survey Corps also continue chasing. They’re getting Eren back no matter what.

Episode 36
Erwin changes his formation as he leads his team to lure other Titans to chase the Armoured Titan. Ymir talks to Krista how she needs to come with them since it is dangerous living behind the walls and the outside is much better than she thinks. If only other Titans aren’t busy trying to eat her. Krista thinks Ymir was threatened by Reiner and Bertolt to help her. No matter what happens, she’ll be by her side. Bertolt blames Ymir for her plan because the Survey Corps are catching up. Are they doing all this for nothing? Does she want to trap Krista inside the walls with her? Ymir adds she stole the Titan’s power from one of their friends and will be killed for that. However if she handed Krista to them, she’ll be spared since Krista is an important person who knows the secrets of the walls. Ymir reveals she did all this to save her own skin. At the castle she was afraid of dying but kept thinking she was doing it for Krista’s sake. So please come with her. Krista reminds her she will always be by her side. By the time Eren wakes up, the Survey Corps have begun attacking. It’s been a long time we’ve seen those scary eyes in Mikasa. She is going to kill them! The Armoured Titan shields Bertolt and Eren. Mikasa intends to kill Ymir first but Krista stops her. But Mikasa doesn’t give a f*ck. She is too tired to do that. Anybody who gets in Eren’s way will die! She makes Krista choose who to side: Eren or Ymir. Krista tells Ymir to back down in which she does. Mikasa and the rest focus on getting Eren out. Everyone is trying to get answers if everything was a lie. Mikasa doesn’t give a f*ck. Just kill them! Finally Bertolt speaks out. Who in the world would enjoy killing other humans? Maybe they have deceived them but it wasn’t all lies. They might not have the right to apologize and wishes somebody would just find them.

Hannes warns them all to get off because Erwin has led the other Titans to clash with the Armoured Titan ahead. Although the Armoured Titan ploughs through, it feels like they’re playing rugby? Eventually the Armoured Titan is stopped in its tracks. It becomes a chaotic mess trying to retrieve Eren as Erwin gets partially eaten! Yeah, more soldiers dying. After coming this far, the Armoured Titan releases Bertolt. Time to go on your own. However Armin drops in to play some psychological game with him. He tells how Annie is trapped deep inside and they are finding new ways to torture her. This makes Bertolt really angry. Enough time for Erwin to cut Eren loose (how did he escape?) and Mikasa to rescue him. The Survey Corps initiate their retreat. Connie and Sasha take Krista away. She intends to stay with Ymir but they are sceptical of Ymir. She only gets serious when Krista is in danger. They both need to calm down since staying outside will increase their chance of dying. The Armoured Titan starts throwing Titans at the retreating Survey Corps. Mikasa and Eren fall off their horse. But a familiar Titan approaches before them… Isn’t that the Titan who ate Eren’s mom?!

Episode 37
Hannes protects the duo. He goes crazy trying to get revenge for Eren’s mom. Ymir is in a dilemma. Erwin’s plans has put her in a dilemma. She can’t help Reiner now so should she help the Survey Corps? Because even if she survives, there will be hell to pay and hence no future behind those walls. Krista talks to Ymir about lying she is doing this for herself. She reminds her that they should be living for themselves and not for others. Jean gets knocked out by a flying Titan. Armin tries to defend him with his weak sword swinging? Once Eren has his limbs fully generated, he is going to transform into a Titan. However no matter how much he bites and bleeds, he won’t change! Hope he doesn’t bite off more than he can chew. Because of that, he gets to watch history happen all over again with the Titan eating Hannes! NO! Eren’s turn to go crazy. He’s mad. He’s sad. He’s useless. And it’s like Mikasa has this screw it feeling too. Amidst all the chaos, she thanks him for all the things he has done especially the scarf he gave her. Thanks for teaching her how to live. I don’t know if she was going to kiss him but Eren looks like he got his groove back. By being angrier, that is. So with his scream, suddenly all the Titans stop what they are doing and rush towards Eren’s mom’s killer and ripped it apart!!! The Survey Corps take this chance to escape. With the Armoured Titan heading for Eren, he tells him not to come close or else! Instantly all the Titans now focus and target the Armoured Titan. Reiner is shocked that of all people, the power of the Coordinate is with Eren. Ymir stays back to help the Armoured Titan fend off the others (Bertolt is defencelessly hanging in there). In the aftermath, Reiner, Bertolt and Ymir survived the crazy onslaught. Ymir says she decided to go with them because she is willing to be their trophy so they don’t return empty handed. She also wants to thank them that had they not broke the wall, she wouldn’t have woke up from that living nightmare. Hange takes Connie to see Erwin. They are shocked to learn that Titans could be humans although there is no evidence yet. Eren is back to guilt mode since he learns half the Survey Corps got wiped out just to rescue him. Armin and Jean tried to figure out why the Titans acted so and they believe it is because of Eren. No proof yet, though. Jean warns him he is in a tricky position now. He has to proof his life is worth more than all those sacrificed. The Yeti Titan is watching from afar, noting that it still isn’t done yet.

Mean Titans GAWR!
WTF???!!! WHAT THE HECK???!!! Why are there only a dozen episodes this season?! Why is it only a single cour?! Because in the same season whereby we had anime with sequels like Boku No Hero Academia and Shingeki No Bahamut: Virgin Soul, both these equally awesome series doubled the number of episodes from their first season to have 2 cours worth of episodes! So why does this series not maintain that?! I’m so angry! I want more! Oh… They say they are going to have another season… Yahoo! I guess it is going to take some time to craft an interesting story and make it even much better than it has ever been. But wait. How long do I have to wait for that to happen? I want it now! I want my Titans NOW! Oh well, time to stop being a dick and just wait like everybody else. (Or else the producers will just tell me off to get eaten by a Titan).

It goes without saying that this season is super awesome! It is hard to tell whether it is better than the first season, though it has its few flaws (one of that being too short). Anyhow, it is still awesome and I am glad this is one of those few anime series that didn’t suck with its sequel. This season is even more intense and exciting than before. Although there were a few questions answered (like the identity of the Armoured Titan and Colossal Titan), the direction of where it is heading also brings about new questions and conspiracies. Especially the truth about the Titans. There is a big speculation on my part now that the Titans are humans (obviously how else can you explain there are no holes along Wall Rose and a Titan looking like Connie’s mom?) and that the walls are hiding something that Titans are sent to go devour humans living in it. And that there is more to than just the humans living behind the walls because it looks like a whole new world outside the walls. And possible being overrun by Titans. I could write paragraphs and paragraphs of my speculation of what lies ahead but I don’t want to ruin myself with all the hype. Let’s just focus on this season, shall we? Oh… Could humans be actually Titans in their true original form and those who deviated or broke off became humans?!

With everything so great and thrilling, there is not much left to discuss and praise further. From the gritty art style to the voice acting to the bloody action where soldiers get devoured to the ‘useful’ declassified information in the mid-intermission, everything maintains its perfection like before. That is why it is somewhat conflicting for me that at this point all there is left to talk about are the ‘flaws’. I am not saying that they make this season less great but I blame because of the very short number of episodes, there was not much other developments that I was hoping to see. Remember about the key Eren’s dad said he needs to get to take a big step in solving this mystery? Well, it seems to have taken a back seat this season.

For instance, let us start off with the characters. This seasons is great because we get to see insights and the past of some of the main characters like Sasha (she isn’t as stupid as she acts out to be), Krista (glad she is more than just a pretty face), Ymir (she’s more than just a Krista lesbian wannabe), Reiner (split personality?) and Bertolt (he likes Annie?!). All very essential to driving the plot. I was expecting some sort of twist this season but I actually didn’t expect that twist of Reiner and Bertolt to just admit upfront and right in our faces about their Titan forms. It was like a, “Wait… What?!” moment. It really catches you off guard. Just like the rest of their buddies, we hope it is a lie because we have spent lots of time together and we’re like a band of brothers that suspecting them as the antagonists do not cross our mind. Well, this wasn’t the first time it hit us as last season we had Annie doing it. However Annie had this suspicion looks written all over her face unlike Reiner and Bertolt who did not. So when the truth really came out, it really hit us hard. Their intentions to go home and all makes it even more intriguing since nothing was really explained in detailed at this point yet.

I suppose this shocking development is the main plot for this season. Because of that, many of the other beloved characters fell to the wayside. Not to say that they are casted aside and no longer important, at least they do not play so much of a prominent role this season. Take for instance whom I consider as the ‘biggest offender’ of this: Jean. This guy didn’t even pop up till halfway through this season! And even that we don’t get much glimpse of him. Sure, he might be stuck behind Wall Sina but seeing him back in action doesn’t feel the same because his eternal rival Eren wasn’t there for their whatever challenge-cum-rivalry so you don’t see that cockiness and proudness in him that we know.

Speaking of Eren, this season he feels like a supporting character since the plot is focused elsewhere. It feels odd again because Eren is once again ‘taken away’ and has to be ‘rescued’. If you remember last season he was being kidnapped by the Female Titan who was no other than Annie (in which after he was rescued eventually) but then his friends had to help him escape again after he was summoned to the capital for the mission’s failure and this led to all that sh*t from turning Stohess district into a giant playground-cum-battlefield for Titans and the Titans behind the walls discovery. Yeah, Eren is like the damsel in distress of the series. He is too weak to save himself (blowing his top is what he does best) and has to always rely on Mikasa. Speaking of her, we too don’t get to see much of her. Because of that, we don’t see our usual overprotective Mikasa who wants to keep Eren all for herself. Sure, we finally get to see them eventually and that is when we are reminded, “Ah, this is the Mikasa we knew”. But at least now we know Eren has some sort of power that makes him really coveted and important. So another attempt to kidnap him next season?

Fan favourite Levi is also missing a lot. But I guess that is only fair since he had his own OVA of his origins a couple of years before. Oh, that feels like a long time ago… Heck, we don’t even get to see him in Titan slashing action. Then there are others like Hange, Pixis, Keith and whoever I have forgotten at this point (especially those from the inner wall districts like Nile and Zacklay). RIP Mike. You came back in the second season only to die in the first episode. Sad… And it comes full circle and culminated with the death of Hannes in the last. So he atoned for his failure to avenge Eren’s mom? Or was that considered a failure too? Well, we all know this drunkard won’t show up anymore. RIP Hannes…

With quite a handful of characters being able to transform into Titans and the scary fact that humans may be Titans themselves, this season I find myself feeling a bit odd because there are points in which I want to become a Titan too! Not because I want to run around screaming naked and without genitals, mind you! While swinging around freely like Spiderman with the 3DMD seems awesome and fun, but wouldn’t it be fun too to become a giant Titan and run around with your unique ability? I don’t know. Seeing Reiner as the strong and unbreakable Armoured Titan and Ymir as the agile and flexible type made me feel that perhaps being a Titan isn’t so bad after all. Except when you’re being Titan fodder, that is.

Why do I have this feeling that the opening theme, Shinzou Wo Sasageyo is so much similar to the first season’s Guren No Yumiya? Well, it is sung by the same band, Linked Horizon but it is so similar that sometimes I couldn’t tell it apart. I believe they want to maintain that total epic feel of the song like those background choir voices and the likes. So it’s like taking last season’s song and just modify it to get a brand new song? Not that I’m complaining. The awesomeness of this series has blinded me to this point. However the weirdest of the lot is the ending theme, Yuugure No Tori by Shinsei Kamattechan and totally in English. The way the song is sung sounds creepy although the tune of the song itself is not. It feels like a bunch of aliens are singing this piece. But what is even more disturbing are the animations shown here. Indeed very disturbing. Images of what could be big hints of the history of the Titans. Very big. It’s already creepy enough to hear the song and then seeing such troubling animation, it is the kind that will give you nightmares for a long time! Thankfully I didn’t. I hope.

Overall, there will never be enough praises to sing to paint how awesome this season is. Much more than the praises those worshippers have faith in God. Hah. So I truly cannot wait for the next season to be around. Sorry but not sorry if I am very biased in claiming this to be one of the best animes in my life because of how it draws and fascinated me every second of it that when an episode finished, I literally didn’t want it to end. I figure that if an anime can do that to me, then is it not worthy to be considered one of the greatest in my books? So I recommend this anime to everybody. Even young kids and toddlers to watch! Controversial? Inappropriate? Violent? So you want to wait till the hard facts of real life hit your kid and lose his/her innocence then? Being slowly devoured alive like that is much worse than being devoured by a Titan…

Strike The Blood II

October 27, 2017

Alright. It is time to see our main hero add more girls into his harem. Oops! I mean it is time to, erm, learn more about the deeper plot, uhm, deeper characters, uhm… Oh you know what? Screw all that. I can’t seem to remember what the heck was going on anyway. From that, you can tell the reason why I am watching the sequel, Strike The Blood II. Unlike the first season where it was screened on TV, the second season is being released via OVA format. Most probably it didn’t have enough episodes to fill a single cour (only 8 of them) and it took them half a year to release them all. But that is more than enough for the series to add more plots, characters and girls to Kojou’s harem and perhaps let him sink his teeth into some of their neck. What? Don’t you want to be cool to be part of a great vampire’s harem?

Swords-Shaman Of Shadow Arc

Episode 1
Kojou is cleaning the pool. Time for some forced fanservice because when Yukina jumps down to help, she would have expected the gravity, aerodynamics or whatever science crap to realize it will flip up her skirt for a second. I think she is doing it on purpose so she could blame and call him a pervert. Luckily Motoki gives them a break and tells them to check out the newly opened resort, Blue Elysium. Kojou didn’t really think it was to help out in some yakisoba stall. Hey, at least he is here with Asagi. Nice bikini, girl. Yukina is hanging out with Nagisa at the aquarium. Nagisa is trying to hint she is rooting for Yukina for Kojou. Suddenly something strange is felt. Since other ordinary people didn’t feel it, Yukina believes it is a magic pulse but it cannot be from Kojou as it doesn’t feel like his. A fish gets violent trying to break the glass. Nagisa in some trance tells it to pipe down. Nagisa doesn’t have any recollection of what just happened. A strange girl, Kiriha Kisaki wants to take their photo but Yukina doesn’t think it is a good time. She leaves and hopes they can be friends one day. Kojou returns late from his delivery and Asagi accuses him of flirting with a girl! OMG! Is she paranoid? Actually, a little girl, Yume Eguchi followed him back from the delivery. Wait. What is Railgun’s Last Order doing here?! It gets worse when Kojou compliments Yume’s nice name and receives a punch from Asagi for trying to be a pedo. It seems Yume knows about Kojou because his ‘girlfriend’ told him to look for him if there is trouble. From her description, that ‘girlfriend’ is Sayaka. Yume was locked up when Sayaka came to bust her out. There were many guards trying to stop them so Sayaka gave him a photo of her ‘future boyfriend’ for her to go look for.

As Yume is not a registered resident on Itogami, instead of handing over her to the police, why must Kojou complicate things by wanting Yukina to see her first? Because she is friends with Sayaka? What logic is that?! Does he not know the women problem he is going to get? Oh, who cares? Timely fanservice reminder when he opens the door while Asagi and Yume are changing! Without knocking. Okay, it’s his bad. But thanks. Nice sideboobs, Asagi. Later, Yukina confirms Lion King didn’t send any replacement after Sayaka. Could she be still on the job? Why hasn’t she come back to get Yume? Yume thinks she is trying to meet Lyl, her older sister. She further explains both of them were locked in the lab of Erize Kusuki, the big sponsor of Blue Elysium. Apparently it is originally Lyl they want she was willingly participating in some sort of experiment. Kiriha talks to Kusuki to assure a certain ‘vessel’ will return on her own volition. Otherwise, everything is going as planned. Kiriha then visits Sayaka whom she has captured. Flashback shows the duo facing off and Kiriha defeated her because she is a Rikujin, the shadow of a Sword Shaman.

Episode 2
Sayaka realizes she is from Taishikyoku, an organization similar to Lion King Organization. Kiriha says she is not the enemy but will borrow her body as vessel for her power first and hypnotizes her with her spear. Then she quotes Taishikyoku is an organization that protects the world even if it means destroying Itogami. Wait. Doesn’t this sound like current day Antifa… What’s worse than your harem gunning for you? Motoki gunning for Kojou! Luckily he knocked himself out. Yume is acting strange as she doesn’t want Kojou to look at her. She now has a tail?! Wait. Is she related to To Love-Ru’s Lala?! More complication with Yukina accusing him of always talking about Yume! Is he a pedo?! WTF?! Not true! Because he also always talks about Sayaka and Asagi! Is she not good enough for him?! More complication when Asagi now flirts with him, saddened he is not looking her way. Yukina knocks her out. And then same thing for Nagisa. Oh boy. They realize they have been mind controlled. The prankster behind this is Yume. She is now acting so devilishly. Actually she is Lyl, Yume’s other personality. Her real identity is a succubus. As she is often bullied for that (imagine your thoughts if a young girl is such an erotic person), she created this other personality. Lyl thought she could irk Kojou that he hates her now but he has been through more sh*t than this. Yeah, like being called a pervert and worse.

Lyl then runs away but is glad that Kiriha is here to pick her back. Kiriha lets Sayaka deal with them. I think Kojou wants to show he isn’t a lolicon so he deals with Sayaka while Yukina tries to get back Yume. Sayaka is going all out. So he purposely lets her stab him so he can suck her blood. Oh, her top came off. Nice tits, Sayaka. Yukina fights Kiriha. She realizes her spear is what brings out Lyl’s character and accumulates her succubus power. Yume doesn’t want to see the pretty girls fight and end in bloodshed so she will end this as she willingly flies away back to Kusuki. When Sayaka comes to, she remembers everything during her mind control and is worried about hurting Kojou. Don’t worry. He is healed with her blood. I’m sure Yukina would want to reprimand him for ‘flirting’ but I guess she failed her mission to bring back Yume, it kills the mood. Sayaka reveals Yume is a sacrifice as Kusuki plans to use her power since she is a descendent of Lilith, the strongest succubus. This will allow Kusuki to control Leviathan, the strongest demonic beast. Asagi has got a lot of work on her hands as she has to hack and do stuffs. Leviathan is easily located. It’s that freaking huge. Yeah, it’s close by. Further hacking reveals Kusuki has invested in this group called True Arc. They call themselves environmentalists but are actually terrorists. Imagine if a group like that gets their hands on the most powerful beast as their weapon. Yup, not good. Asagi also discovers Lyl is some sort of AI programme created to activate Yume’s succubus power. If they can put a stop to it but her laptop hasn’t got enough processing power… Well, she’ll try. So off Kojou goes to play the hero to save Yume (since she is already on her way with Kusuki to rendezvous with Leviathan). I guess he needs to show his worth as the harem guy. Yeah, this means Sayaka and Yukina want to help because they have to pander to him want to bring Yume back. Except you Motoki. GO BACK TO SLEEP! You’re not needed because you’re not in his harem! Haha!

Episode 3
Sayaka wants Kojou to forget about that bare tits incident. Why you have to remind him?! And why does Kojou have to say it out loud?! You want Yukina to kill you?! Asagi is faced with a greater task. Taishikyoku has hired Lydianne AKA Tank Rider to stop her hacking efforts. Kusuki has landed inside Leviathan (why does it stomach look like watermelon?). Suddenly Lyl wakes up. What gives? Kusuki realized he has been played out and used by Kiriha. They’re going to be the sacrifice. Lyl knocks Kusuki and his men out. Kiriha sees Kojou and his girls and intercepts them. She tells them to run away as Leviathan is going to destroy Itogami. As Lyl is in control of Leviathan, her suffering and torment in the past has made her wish for everything to be destroyed. Initially she wanted to kill herself but she realizes as Lilith’s successor, the cycle will repeat itself and somebody else will take her place. However this won’t happen if she is inside Leviathan as it will absorb her and eventually she will cease to exist. Yes, Yume is trying to kill herself this way. But really still, destroy all of Itogami in the process? Sayaka faces off with Kiriha to let the duo rescue Yume. Leviathan notices them approaching and attacks. Wait. It can fire missiles?! Then there is this barrier it has. Nothing like Kojou summoning his familiars to break into Leviathan. Meanwhile Asagi is being pushed back but after all that taunting from Lydianne, she fights back and corners her till she is defeated! Kiriha reveals to Sayaka that Asagi is the Priestess of Cain. She is believed to trigger a war someday and that is the real objective of Taishikyoku trying to destroy Itogami along with her. Because the logic is that Asagi cannot be killed by anyone as long as she is on that island since Itogami is constructed against the natural order is like an altar to Cain. Hence there are events that will conspire to protect her. So how does blowing it all up be any different? Of course Sayaka views that plan of theirs as defeat. Because she believes in Kojou and Yukina. Sayaka uses her quick assassination technique to defeat Kiriha. And the latter thanks her for it? Strange…

Kojou and Yukina are being attacked by Lyl. She teases Kojou for trying to be a lolicon but Kojou tells her to quit her bad acting. The way she addresses him gave away that she is Yume. Now she turns to tears (I guess not acting for this one) that he would still want to save her after all that she has done. Time for the man to lecture her about being a hypocrite (himself), self-satisfaction (himself) and happiness (hers). Yeah, just shut your mouth and let him rescue you. And just when she is about to let him, Leviathan ‘reboots’ and strikes! It is going mad for being controlled as it unleashes tons of missiles towards Itogami. Don’t worry, Sayaka is here to deflect them all. Can she? Don’t worry, she gets help from Lydianne. She is now her friend?! Kojou is out of options. He wants Yukina to take off her clothes! WTF?! No wonder he gets punched! Couldn’t he just say he needs to suck her blood? Even so, does she need to take off her clothes?! You pervert! She is reluctant till she sees a huge injury on his back caused from Lyl’s attack. That scored some sympathy points so she strips to her swimsuit and tells him how she haven’t shown it to anyone else and he is the first dude. Nice. How can a guy not compliment how cute she looks in this? And then he bites her shoulder. So you see, why the need for her to strip?! Oh right. Fanservice… With enough blood, Kojou is now able to summon his seventh familiar, Kiffa-Ater. A huge judgment sword that strikes down on Leviathan. The beast is still mad and wants another go. However, Yume’s sings and it isn’t mind controlling it but pacifying it. It worked. But is it me that I find her singing creepy? In the aftermath, Natsuki accuses Paper Noise that Kojou and co got involved in this was her fault. It seems she wants to make Taishikyoku owe them big time and with that, Asagi won’t be targeted for a while. Kojou and co returns and what is worse than having the yakisoba boss wanting him to go back to work now? Yume wanting Kojou to play with her because he said he will keep her happy forever. Oh God. His harem just gone up by one. The competition intensifies by one. No wonder his girls aren’t looking happy… You might have saved the day but you f*cked up over this one…

The Fourth Primogenitor On The Run Arc

Episode 4
Yume has now got permission to stay on Itogami. And she is really looking forward to Kojou to make her happy. This is the thing about mis-education. You can’t undo it… And Yukina is stalking by the sides till an elder guy teased her about it. Typical Yukina denial expected. This guy is teasing her so loudly that it attracts others. I didn’t come to me as a surprise as this dude is Kojou and Nagisa’s father, Gajou. A week later as Kojou attends Natsuki’s special class, she is asking about Gajou. Kojou doesn’t know much accept he came back to take Nagisa to see some aunty Tanzawa in Kannawa. Apparently Natsuki knows about Gajou since he often helped-cum-interfered with her missions before. New Year’s Eve is here and Kojou is more worried since no word from Nagisa. Didn’t he say Kannawa is a pretty isolated place with rare handphone coverage? Anyway, the whole gang is here dressed up perfectly in their kimono to visit the shrine. Despite the sweltering heat, I know why the girls don’t mind dressing up to look this good… Kojou then receives mail from his sister. However it is a picture of a magic circle. So worried that he doesn’t have a piece of mind during the shrine visit. His fortune reading is cursed. Twice! But I’m thinking more of his curse on the opposite gender… Kojou then realizes the magic circle looks familiar. It is the one probably used by Sayaka as she is the only one Yukina knows who has mastered it. However she heard rumours of an easier weapon that could imitate it. Kojou tries to call Sayaka (why is Asagi concerned he has her number?) but she didn’t pick up. He wants to go see her and that is when Asagi puts her foot down. She hints her parents aren’t at home and wonders if he would like to come. Turns out it is to use her computers to hack and find the whereabouts of Gajou and Nagisa. What were you thinking they were going to do???!!! Disappointed?

It seems father and daughter are really having a swell time visiting many places having fun on their way to Kannawa. But they realize something strange. Their travel is too smooth. There should have been traffic at this time of the year. Like as though there is some huge barrier unconsciously making others avoiding roads to Kannawa. The JSDF seems to be behind this but the ones ordering them is SDC. Yukina is shocked. She wants to go investigate. Kojou can’t leave her and follows. It seems SDC is a dummy organization created by the Lion King to handle magical disasters. She fears Nagisa may have been caught up in one. She needs to go to the shop where they met Nyanko to confirm it. Since it is close, Yukina is desperate enough to try and break it down! Luckily Kojou stops her (via hugging?) and rationales how Lion King has factions in power struggle she may not know about. He assures her Sayaka won’t betray her. Coincidentally Kiriha is here and she knows what is happening. But once they hear it, they’ll regret it. Asagi is at the airport when she notices guards are trying to arrest her. Run! Kojou and Yukina go to see Natsuki for a way off Itogami. Wait. Astarte and Kanon streaking naked in her house? Because Kojou is starring for a few seconds in shock, enough for Yukina to call him a pervert and beat him up!? Where was he supposed to look, huh?! Okay, anywhere but loli tits and body. Back to serious business, Natsuki will not help him get off the island. And this is illegally. Because if he does it legally, it means registering with the government and thus revealing his identity as a vampire. She warns him not to interfere no matter how worried he is for Nagisa. When he decides to go find another person for help, Natsuki chains him down. She will not let him leave Itogami no matter what.

Episode 5
Flashback shows Kiriha explaining a God slaying relic crashed at Kannawa decades ago. The lake there is artificial. What if the damn built there was to seal it and that seal is now becoming undone? Natsuki is not pleased he knows this much but since he doesn’t remember Nagisa has undone the seal once, it shows his memory hasn’t fully returned. Nina breaks him free and distracts Natsuki so Kanon could let them escape. It feels more than coincidence when Kiriha picks them up. It seems she is helping them as to piss off Lion King as both organizations aren’t seeing eye to eye. Kojou plans to see Vatler’s help but Kiriha has done his fake ID papers. So Kojou and Yukina are going to leave the island as a married couple? And he is mad about Yukina being older than him?! However they are stopped by a magical barrier. Looks like Natsuki is here. Or at least her replica. With Kojou being persistent, Natsuki explains about the holy relic and how Avrora is sleeping inside Nagisa. Oh, his memories coming back now? Not quite. Just more confusing ones. Natsuki assures Lion King is only interested in Avrora’s power and no intention of harming Nagisa who will be very well protected. Although Kojou realizes Lion King did not betray them and never told them so as not to let Kojou interfere in fear his power may hasten the seal’s undoing, he still wants to go save his sister. He tries to fight back but Kanon saves him and they both get absorbed into her magical barrier. Meanwhile Asagi continues to run. Mogwai leads her out and even calls Lydianne for back up. When she is cornered, all the guards are taken out by Meiga. This allows Asagi to leave the island.

While Kiriha and Yukina teams up to fight Natsuki’s replica, Kojou and Kanon are inside the prison barrier and before them is Natsuki in her sexy grownup form. She continues to explain Lion King’s objective is to seal the relic for good and Kojou’s power might wake it up. If so, wouldn’t that be the same for Nagisa and Avrora? But Avrora knows a spell to seal it. And nothing will happen to her soul since she is already dead and it is a leftover fragment shaving away Nagisa’s life. She never said this before since Kojou will not listen. Yup, he still won’t. He tries to fight her but gets overwhelmed. Kojou is such a main character because Astarte ‘defects’ to block Natsuki’s attack. Then she tells Kanon to get naked. She meant, let him take your blood. Yikes, does she even need to take off her bra?! Oh, maybe she doesn’t want to stain it. And so Kanon is now officially part of his harem as he sinks her teeth in. Kojou may not be able to use his magic in here but he can sure unleash it outside. By summoning Mearthim-Adamas, he aids Yukina outside who is already activating some divine mode to destroy the replica once and for all. Overpowered. Overkill. Because of that, Natsuki decides to let Kojou go. She can’t have him destroy Itogami at this rate. Oh, so show a bit of your power and she sets him free? She gives him a ‘farewell present’. Sorry Kojou. Not sexy Natsuki time. It’s homework for you. And the worse part of it is to convince Yukina he isn’t a lolicon for aiming Kanon and Natsuki. Because he is describing how voluptuously sexy this Natsuki is. She’s even madder. You can’t never win this sh*t. Kiriha hates to break their ‘flirting’ but they shouldn’t waste time getting off the island. However Paper Noise stops them. Identifying herself as one of the 3 leaders of Lion King and her real name as Shizuka Koyomi, she won’t be as lenient as Natsuki to let him get off this island and have come to seal him here.

Knight Of Sinful God Arc

Episode 6
When Gajou and Nagisa arrived at a shrine in Kannawa, Gajou went to look for Tanzawa but was attacked by Shio Hikawa and Yuiri Haba from Lion King. He fights back causing one of them to unleash a magic circle in which Nagisa took a picture. But Gajou gives up when he realizes the JSDF has Nagisa in their hands. Gajou is imprisoned and he can tell what is going on. He knows JSDF is cooperating with Lion King and their target is the seal named Avalon at the bottom of the lake. When this old priestess lady, Hisano asks Gajou about his children, his mind starts to hurt. She believes his memories were consumed as a result from the Fourth Progenitor’s resurrection. She has Yuiri follow her while Shio guard Gajou. She assures their mission is the same as his: To kill Avrora. Nagisa is enjoying the hotspring but feels lonely. But she won’t be as Shirona Kuraki accompanies her. She allows her to touch her boobs?! Nagisa doesn’t hesitate and could have almost lost herself. Yeah, looks like it is payback as Shirona fondles her back! And at other places! It gets weird because Shirona’s hair grows long like as though they’re going to tentacle rape Nagisa as she passes out. At JSDF’s camp, Hisano talks to Major Tatsumi Azama about Avalon. Shirona joins them and it seems she is one the powerful Three Saints. Hisano asks Yuiri’s opinion on this. She feels it is something different and not an incarnation of disaster. Hisano wants Yuiri to take her place then. Nagisa wakes up and thought Shirona’s molestation will pick up where they left off?! Well, they’re in Nagisa’s unconscious mind as Shirona explains about the ceremony to suppress Avalon. She believes it is for Nagisa’s good as they will use Avrora’s power to seal it once and for all and free Nagisa from Avrora’s soul feeding on her life force. However Nagisa is in distress. She warns Avalon isn’t a seal and Avrora was keeping watch over it. Too late because the entire area is now frozen and there are monster bugs attacking the JSDF.

Gajou and Shio fight their way through. Apparently Gajou can do miraculous stuff like walking through solid objects and pulling out ridiculous weapons from his pocket because during his time lost in some central Asian ruins, his entire research team was killed and he is the only survivor. Since half his body is still stuck on the other side, he can literally pull up this kind of stuffs. The casualties are high. Azama is missing and presumed killed in action so Lieutenant Mikage Okiyama assumes command. Shirona wakes up and explains she was wrong Avalon. It isn’t a seal. It was just using them by absorbing knowledge of priestesses who had been sacrificed for it and waited for the right time to activate. Gajou and Shio come into Avrora. He assures her nobody hates her. Not Kojou too. She reverts back to Nagisa and passes out. Yuiri is confronted with a naked and seemingly retarded girl. Meanwhile Kojou wakes up in an inn. Yukina is so happy that she hugs him. Time for Kiriha to tease about it and lie how Kojou grab her boobs during his sleep. Yeah, Yukina just wants to accuse him somehow. This coming from somehow whose yukata is so undone like as though she just came out from a porn shoot. Haha! Anyway, they remember how they easily lost to Paper Noise as she is the chief of the Three Saints and one of the strongest attack mages in Japan. When sexy bikini babes come in to serve them, they remember it was Vatler who somewhat saved them from Paper Noise. However they aren’t on his ship and are just walking distance to Kannawa’s lake.

Episode 7
Lydianne and Asagi are reaching Kannawa’s lake. They are besieged by those monster bugs. They try to protect a young kid they spot in the midst of it but failed. That kid turns out to be Ibliss Bal-Aziz, a direct descendent of the Second Progenitor. Yeah, he doesn’t need your protection and can kick ass but the consideration of protecting him is appreciated. They even have some food and strike up some weird friendship! The retard girl seems to be attached to Yuiri so Hisano has her escort her to the rear lines to help the wounded JSDF. We take a detour as we see Kiriha trolling Kojou with her bikini fanservice in the outdoor hotspring. She can tell his right hand is still numb due to Paper Noise sealing it. She is also here to say goodbye since Taishikyoku has recalled her for a mission to destroy magical beasts at Kannawa’s lake since Lion King has failed. I don’t know why he doesn’t want to let her go but it looked like he was going to rape her so you bet Yukina isn’t going to forgive this naked pervert and not giving him a chance to explain himself. Gajou and Shio stumble into Hisano. They thought she destroyed all the monster bugs but they were already like this when she got here. They are attacked by a wyvern rider. They realize he is the one who eradicated the monster bugs. Hisano and Gajou get seriously injured trying to fight him. Don’t worry, Vatler is here to save the day. He has his subordinates tackle the wyvern rider as Ibliss’ side comes into the picture. They deduce the wyvern rider is from the Holy Massacre faction and thus a Knight of the Sinful God. Since Vatler’s subordinates couldn’t finish the job, time for Ibliss to show his true might. However the wyvern rider makes a tactical retreat.

Yuiri learns retard girl’s name is Grenda. Their truck is being attacked by a golem controlled by that wyvern rider. Yuiri tries to protect her but is overwhelmed. Grenda cannot bear to see this and summons a magical beast to fight. The wyvern rider has been waiting for this moment and captures the beast. Luckily, guess who is here to save their skin? It’s Kojou and Yukina’s turn. Realizing Kojou as the Fourth Progenitor, the wyvern rider escapes. Ibliss seeks an explanation from Shio but her oath says she cannot tell him. So Gajou explains about this Avalon weapon of mass destruction thingy they were trying to seal but everything went wrong and hell broke loose. Ibliss believes what was lying underneath the lake isn’t a weapon but a divine instrument or treasured vessel powerful enough to be the Sinful God’s successor. Shio notes she saw a dragon protecting it albeit for a second. Asagi interjects a dragon should be easy to spot since there are lots of JSDF personnel around. Then Gajou realizes something fishy is going on. Azama and his team return and wants to take charge of Nagisa, since tending the wounded is their priority. However Shio draws her arrow at him. Kojou is glad Nagisa is safe, though he doesn’t care much about his dad. They are approached by Lieutenant Ueyanagi of the JSDF claiming they are under orders from Azama to escort them since they were just under attacked. They also want to take charge of Grenda. But not so fast, Kojou tells them. He smells something fishy too. If Yuiri only recently knew about Grenda’s name, how the heck do they even know her name? Shio explains something about the JSDF being too weak and ill prepared for mission. She calls out to Azama as a Knight of Sinful God.

Episode 8
Ueyanagi summons magic to transform into some beast. Azama warns Shio to drop her weapon for one last time. Shirona tells Shio to ignore that order as she has relieved Azama from his duty. She reveals one of Lion King’s objectives is to lure out the Holy Massacre faction inside JSDF. Azama escapes on a wyvern provided by Okiyama. Yeah, she’s part of it too. Ueyanagi loses since his magic tool is only a replica and inferior imitation. He thought Azama is here to help take him away but instead got killed to be put out of his misery. When Yuiri gets injured during the attack, Grenda goes berserk, transforms into a dragon and drags her friends away. Is this time to be concerned about the ambiguous lewd position they are in? When Yuiri wakes up, she is healed. They are resting in a mountain cabin for the time being. Kojou gets blamed of course since Yuiri is half naked despite it is Yukina the one who undressed her. They talk about their old times and the possibility that Yuiri could have been in Yukina’s place to protect Kojou. Yuiri observes the duo and they’re so fluid in sharing things that she blows her top they’re like a married couple?! WTF?! Even this prompts Grenda to ask Yuiri if she likes Kojou. That is put on hold when Azama is here to talk. He asks Kojou about his views on the current world. Due to some war, it has warped this world and its rules. Of course their goal isn’t to become God as humans can’t be one. But they sure can resurrect and control that God. Isn’t that like playing God itself? Grenda is supposed to be that vessel they want to use to bring down Itogami. This method will allow them to get rid of all demons and the likes and return the world to its normal state. This means Kojou will get to be a normal human again. It sounds tempting at first but seeing he sacrifices comrades and drag innocent bystanders into the mess, he isn’t going to give Grenda to this piece of sh*t. I guess the next option is for Kojou to die. Azama has Okiyama as back as her military craft turns into some dragon golem.

Azama continues explaining about the Node, a world where the banished the Sinful God, Cain. It is a place where demons and magic do not exist and hence Azama’s armour has links to it and in a way is able to nullify their magic and destroy demons like Kojou. Azama opens a portal to trap Kojou inside the Node. Grenda dives in and shocks everyone. Inside this void, Grenda comes to get Kojou. She will take him back and make everyone happy. You mean make his harem happy? So she goes through his memories of, uhm, naked girls?! I figure naked Yukina is the top of the list so she eggs him to bite her. He might be biting Yukina but that is actually Grenda. Because of that, he is able to jump out of the Node (something about absorbing Cain’s memories for that too). Now for some Kojou lecture. If Azama had the thought of fixing this world, why did he become a terrorist? It isn’t the world is warped. It is him! If he insists in taking Grenda, he’ll just have to stop him. Azama stabs himself to gain more magic power. Kojou vows not to let him die and make him repent so he summons his familiar to pummel him down. Same for Yukina to Okiyama (with some help from Lydianne and Ibliss’ power blast). Everything is over for now. But not for Kojou. Asagi heard he is the Fourth Progenitor and wants an explanation. What a better way to deflect that topic by commenting on her swimsuit. He may be labelled a pervert and abused but guess it’s better than grilling him about being that. And now the biggest b*tching of all, Yukina accusing him of sucking Grenda’s blood and turning her into part of his harem. On top of that, he might be seeing Yukina’s naked body but it was actually Grenda’s. Worse, she thinks her naked body doesn’t interest her at all. You can never win this sh*t!!! In the aftermath, Vatler and La Folia investigate the inferior magic tools left behind by the Knights. They observe the Knights had no interest in the Priestess of Cain because of 2 possibilities. One, they don’t know her. Two, there could be another Priestess of Cain. You bet your ass it’s going to be the latter.

Strike The Stud!
Phew! It ended! I don’t know if I could take it anymore because it was getting more and more confusing as more and more of the twists and revelations in the plots come to surface. Even if I am wrong and had this feeling the last episode feels rushed, it sets up for another arc that would bring everything one step closer to a big chaotic mess. Sorry Vatler, looks like things aren’t going to get fun for me.

So there are only 2 kinds of people who watch this show. One who is in for the complicated and convoluted plot over plot and ever increasing number of characters into the mix. Then there is the other category of ‘simpler’ people who are here just to watch the hijinks Kojou and his harem girls will have. No prizes to guess which one I belong to.

Just like in the first season, the thing that I didn’t really like most is how confusing and long winding the story and plot are. It might look simple of bad guys trying to do something bad and the good guys in the form of teens thwarting them and save the day (as well as whoever is the damsel in distress as added bonus). But I assure you it is more than that. It brings back horrific memories while watching To Aru Majutsu No Index. So for this season, I thought the plot was pretty decent and not hard to follow. At least for the first 2 arcs. And then when the final arc came, woah, it just felt like the storywriter dropped an atomic bomb of plots all over the place. Nagisa being kidnapped and the sealing of Avalon was just a façade for something even more complicating and perplexing. I couldn’t really follow it. By the time the middle episode of this final arc gets underway, I was already so lost. Yeah, it’s like almost everybody has got a hand in almost everything. Whatever. Don’t get me started on the terminologies used in the series…

Then there are the characters too. I feels like each arc introduces us to at least a new character. For every ‘important’ character, they have this sort of grand and fancy titles and nickname that sounded like they were made up a few seconds ago. And then they are like related to this and that with their purpose coming into the scene is because of this and that. It only furthers to baffle me even further as I am already struggling to comprehend what is going on. And now with a new character coming into the fray, oh boy, it’s going to be more taxing on my simpleton brain. And that itself doesn’t count a handful of old recurring characters. Like Vatler. I don’t think he is done with but in the final arc, he making his appearance and what’s this sh*t about him with knowing Ibliss and carrying out Warlord’s mission, I give up. I might have forgotten a lot of this dude but now my mind is totally blank. I tried reading my previous blog but at this point I am equally lost. So now Asagi is somebody big too? Oh dear. Somehow I am regretting my wish in my previous blog for other girls in Kojou’s harem to get more of the spotlight. La Folia had hers in the first season, that’s why she was so ‘missing’ here. At least she appeared in the final scene of the last episode. Unlike Yuuma who is completed missing. (Unless I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t notice her miniscule cameo).

So let me take some time off and cool my mind by just mentioning about how I noticed that in every arc, it seems that Kojou will be getting a new girl in his harem, officially or unofficially. You think having a stalker who keeps giving excuses it is her job to observe him (as well as the catchphrase of the series: Kojou: “It’s my fight!”; Yukina: “No senpai, it’s our fight!”), a tsundere, a childhood friend-cum-hacker, a little sister, her best friend and a friendly princess would be enough. That is not counting the loli teacher and other very minor characters having seen some potential to be part of his harem. And now with this second season, you have a loli succubus officially into the mix, a confrontational teaser and possibly some hot chicks in JSDF. Heck, he has even got some very important key vessel to a God officially part of his harem too. The last bit probably would go to Gajou since Shio and Yuiri are warming up to him. Yeah, like father like son. But looks like Yuiri may be ‘defecting’ to Kojou so it’ll be one big happy harem family by the time the next arc rolls about. So folks, hold on to your girl tight. Otherwise they would cross over to them.

They don’t spam the fanservice in your face every 5 seconds but there are sparingly throughout the series enough to make those waiting for such scenes to pop up to ‘wake up’ till the next fanservice scene happens. So keep a lookout for those panty flashing scenes. Oh, because this sequel is OVA, there are a handful of bare tits. Kojou you lucky bastard!!! The girls always blame him for being a pervert when I believe they are the ones who are the real perverts because if they can come to a conclusion of whatever false perversion he has in his mind, doesn’t this make them the ones with a dirty mind? Yeah, the guy always takes the fall when it comes to such naughty things. But still, having a harem beating you up for it is much better than without a harem at all. Kojou you damn lucky bastard!!!

But the thing about Kojou as the main character, not only is he dense about him being the centre of attraction among the girls (Kojou you f*cking damn lucky bastard!!!) but also has the cliché main character trait. For example when he wants to leave Itogami and Natsuki didn’t allow him, somebody has got to give way, right? The way it ended shows that as long as you don’t agree with someone, all you need to do is be stubborn, fight and beat the hell out of your opponent till he/she agrees. That is an ingredient of being a main character! No wonder the girls love him. And what is a great guy without his girls? Every great man there is a great woman behind him. In Kojou’s case, many of them. So if he is down for the count, you can bet his girls will offer themselves freely to take their blood. F*ck! Must they take off their entire clothes just for him to bite the shoulder? I mean, can he just bite on their arm? Maybe he needs to stimulate some blood to that part ‘down there’ too.

At this point, I am also starting to realize a major pattern in the fight sequences. When somebody is getting owned, somebody else, usually our heroes will turn up to save the day. Therefore our victims can never lose because our heroes always turn up in the nick of time to unleash their special attacks and fend off the enemy. So the action bits aren’t a masterpiece but an excuse to show whatever skills our characters have. Spouting fancy words and chants, they get to pull off equally fancy and flashy moves with lots of effects. Yeah, it’s like the one with the better effects wins. Usually. I don’t see any difference anyway. Maybe I don’t know how to appreciate. I’m just here for the harem.

The opening and ending themes are rock based, befitting the pace of the series. Not bad but not my cup of tea either. Blood On The Edge by Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets is the opener while Fortune Number 0405 by Risa Taneda as the ending theme. With the new season, a host of new casts joining the line-up that includes Yukiyo Fujii as Kiriha (Latifa in Amagi Brilliant Park), Nao Touyama as Yume (Chitoge in Nisekoi), Sayaka Senbongi as Yuiri (AnchoR in Clockwork Planet), Kaede Hondo as Shio (Kon in Urara Meirochou), Mutsumi Tamura as Ibliss (Sonya in Kill Me Baby), Yasuyuki Kase as Gajou (Kankurou in Naruto), Kazue Nomiya as Hisano (Ran in Urusei Yatsura), Satomi Sato as Shirona (Wendy in Fairy Tail), Misaki Watada as Grenda (Michiru in Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi No Togi) and (Sho Hayami as Azama (Aizen in Bleach).

Overall, the second season can be viewed as a double edged sword. Because of all its complex jargons, plot and characters, the series is great. However it is bogged down by the cheap fanservice and harem factor that it is bundled with. It is true vice versa for simpletons like me. A great series because of the fanservice and harem but damn those jargons, confusing plots and characters bogged it all down. So I’m wishing for more cheesy fanservice and harem if they ever make more sequels out of it even if it dilutes the value and reputation of the series. Because it is my right! No senpai, it is our right! Otakus for fanservice and harem unite!

Gunslinger Girl

October 22, 2017

I wonder if it is considered child abuse sending little girls to do dirty jobs like murder and assassination. Wait. What’s that I said?! You heard that right. A certain government in Europe had this twisted idea to use little girls (albeit with cybernetic enhancements) to do their dirty work to eliminate people they don’t like or deemed as a threat. What kind of a sick story or joke is this? However despite this grim setting of Gunslinger Girl (no, it’s not some western spaghetti), the series does not focus so much on the assassinations they are required to do but rather their tragic story of how they cope with their emotions as they seek warmth and love just like any ordinary little girls amidst carrying out their ruthless missions from their higher ups as child assassins.

Episode 1
The Fratello, agents (Handlers) and their partners are trying to storm into a certain building to apprehend a key witness. One of them being Jose and Henrietta. They pose as a reporter trying to interview a certain person but the guy behind the door refuses them. Jose remains adamant so that guy goes out to get rough with him. Then it triggered Henrietta. She kills him! When his other comrades start to return fire, she takes out her machine gun and guns them all down with no emotions and no mercy! Flashback shows Jose was to be assigned to a young assassin girl. He asked why the agency used young girls. Something about physical modifications and brainwashing work better. So when Henrietta woke up from her slumber, she became his partner. She never rested and continued training to improve herself since he told her to become proficient quickly. After gunning everyone down and the remaining ones taken out by sniper fire, Jose calls mission control to say that mission has failed. Believing the witness is still in the building, another team is tasked to find the witness in which they eventually found hiding. Jose asks why Henrietta went berserk. It never happened before. She stood there visibly shaken. Her arm is wounded. He covers her with his coat and they go home. Later Jose talks to his higher ups. Jose doesn’t want to condition her too much since it will shorten her lifespan. Jose can get a new one once she is used up but he doesn’t want to. They think he is too emotionally attached to her. As Henrietta is an excellent assassin, it is a waste to dispose of her. They hope he can make her understand big mistakes are inexcusable. Jose remembers Henrietta was the only survivor as her family was massacred. The first time he saw her at the hospital, her mind and body were ragged. It could be out of pity that he felt he wanted to help her. After a while, looks like Henrietta finally answered Jose on why she went berserk. She just wanted to help him.

Episode 2
Jose narrates the Social Welfare Agency is a government sponsored lifesaving corporation. In actual fact it gives dying patients another chance at life with cybernetic implants and conditions them to handle their dirty work. Henrietta undergoes surgery but is warned being dependent on this would suffer from memory dysfunction. The doctor advises Jose to condition her more because trying to treat a cyborg girl like a normal girl would only result in unhappiness. Jose also tried to teach Henrietta social etiquette. But when a waiter was clearing the table, the way he picked up the utensils looked dangerous so Henrietta immediately pins him down and would have killed him had not Jose stopped her. Henrietta wakes up from a ‘bad dream’ whereby Jose in addition to teaching how to do long range sniping, lets her look up at the beautiful sky and Venus. After the surgery is done, Henrietta feels lost so she seeks advice from her comrades, Triela and Claes. They treat her to cake and tea and tell her not to worry about it. That night, Henrietta is surprised that Jose takes her to see stargazing. He isn’t mad at her. He lets her see Orion and tells of the tragic love story of Orion and Artemis.

Episode 3
Henrietta was always sick and thus never left hospital. Her parents were always arguing about this. So when she was fitted with cybernetic implants 2 years ago, she finally got to move freely. She loves her life at the agency and also plays the violin as Jose introduced her to it. She has Rico as her roommate. The girls are in their usual training when a call comes in. All training will be stopped for this next mission. The target is Mascart, a politician from the opposition party and his secretary. The assassination will take place in 1 week. Before each session, Mascart and is secretary will hole up in this hotel to scour over documents. The agency has booked the entire floor so they can carry out their mission smoothly. Rico is tasked to survey the place. As she tries to enter from the back, she meets this porter boy, Emilio. Love at first sight? Because this boy can’t stop talking and she actually listens to him! She had to cut short this meeting when her Handler, Jean calls for her. He notes her running late. Did she bump into anyone? She lies no. He reminds her to kill anybody who sees her during a job. Later Rico tells this to Henrietta. Because Emilio thought she was a musician, she hopes Henrietta could teach her how to play the violin. An amateur teaching a newbie how to play… As the mission begins, Rico enters the room as room service and immediately kills both men. When she leaves the room, she unexpectedly bumps into Emilio. He is shocked and confused to see her here in their hotel’s uniform. Rico is lost for words. How will she get out of this? Well, there is only one way. The same gun she used on the politicians will now be used on him. Sorry. Bye. In the aftermath, Rico narrates she wakes up every morning wonder if her body is still here. If it does, it is wonder to know her body still works. She loves her life at the agency.

Episode 4
Triela nudges Henrietta to summon her courage to ask Jose to spend time with her for Christmas. Triela apprehends a baddie as her Handler, Hilshire wants to ask him questions. Because he pulls out a gun, she shoots him. This doesn’t please Hilshire as he tells her not to shoot without his permission. She dares him to condition her more. Of course he doesn’t wish for that so he asks Jose for advice on how to get along with her. On a mission to Naples, the duo are supposed to search for a retired Mafia boss, Mario. He has been running around Europe but rumours have it he is back here. Their job is to bring him back to the agency for protection as he is a valuable witness to testify against the mafia organization, thus why the mafia are trying to hunt him down too. Hilshire and Mario were also ‘associates’ and know each other. They manage to get him and though Mario agrees to go with them, he needs to do something here now. As he is cuffed to Triela, she has to accompany him to toilet. He tells his story that he once trafficked kids in Amsterdam and that was when he met Hilshire working as Europol’s investigator. He let him escape for insider info. Hilshire was fired when found out and subsequently joined the agency. Slick Mario gives Triela the slip, chaining his end of the handcuff to the stall while escaping himself. Mario thought he has lost her when the mafia aides surround him to bring him to their boss. But Mario is confident as he knows someone dangerous will show up. True enough Triela comes rushing down and raining bullets on them. In the aftermath when she asks why he came to Naples, he wants to see his daughter. After the trafficking, he considered quitting and reflected on all the bad things he had done. He sent her Christmas presents every year but this year he vowed to give it to her in person. Triela lets him go and will report to Hilshire as she lost him. When Mario asks about her parents, she doesn’t remember except that she was found in the Amsterdam trafficking. Hilshire heard all that so Triela is surprised when he is nice to her when he asks what she wants for Christmas. He got her a teddy bear as per requested. Strangely, Mario also sent her a teddy bear present.

Episode 5
Jean sees his former military police captain, Claudio Raballo to bring him out of retirement to the agency. He is given Claes to handle. As he trains her, he finds she isn’t a sharpshooter and has her shoot until she hits every target. So when she hasn’t returned in a day, Jean tells him about how each girl is different and how it takes time for implants to grow accustomed to implants. Raballo realizes Claes has been shooting since yesterday! He goes to get her. Back in his room, they talk about the books they love to read. Currently Raballo is reading on how to plant vegetables. In case of aliens invasion. Seriously? Then he takes her out fishing. She learns his limp is due from a gunshot during his days as a police. In the agency, they look like proper teacher-student. But outside, he takes her fishing and they bond closer. It’s their unspoken rule. One night on a mission, Claes is to handle a few subway punks. Unfortunately she killed them (though, permitted) but she herself got stabbed (pulled her gun too slow). During training, Raballo notices Henrietta inconsistent. When a bullet is stuck in her gun, he slaps it away from her. Because he scolds Jose, Henrietta gets ready to attack him. Similarly, Claes goes to defend him. All calms down when Jose tells Henrietta to stop. Once Jean learns about this, he thought the girls need to have several pages rewritten. A few days later, Claes heard Raballo is quitting the agency. He claims he just needs some time for himself. Though he has been training her to become stronger, he feels uneasy with it. He gives her his key to his room to read all the books she wants as well as glasses so that she will be gentle when she puts them on. Shortly, Jean comes in to tell Claes that Raballo is dead in a hit and run accident. She goes into shock. The higher ups deem her useless but the scientists have some use for her. Claes tells us she doesn’t leave the agency grounds nor participate in missions. Instead she is a guinea pig for whatever experiments the scientists have in mind. As she takes Henrietta to grow vegetables, the latter asks if she is lonely without a partner. She’ll die if Jose is not around. Claes with confidence tells her back that she will decide if she is lonely or not.

Episode 6
Jose talks to Enzo about the recent bomb disarmament in a subway and one near the national museum. Enzo feels odd because it was too easy. Like as though they are amateurs or a distraction for something else. Then they go spy on Enrico Perdini, an ultra-left terrorist in the Republican Faction (RF) responsible for last year’s bombing incidents. Henrietta eavesdrop on their talk. Something political. Something about funding. So there is an entire team tailing Enrico in hopes of catching him in the act of meeting up with the bomb makers. Enrico might have given Enzo’s men the slip but he didn’t realize men from the agency still tailing him. They are unsure of his intentions because he is walking around Rome like as though he is going sight-seeing. When Enrico returns to his hideout, he calls the bomb makers, Franca and Franco. They are not pleased their meeting is in Rome where it is the jurisdiction of the agency. He wanted to scout the place and believing their hands are full now focusing on the museum, he wants the bombs delivered at the appointed time tonight. Franca and Franco don’t really like to deal types like Enrico since he is a lost cause but since it is an order from the higher ups, they have to do it. They wonder if they should send him fake bombs. When Enrico’s men stake out for the appointed meeting, they notice something strange about the traffic. No cars are passing. A distance away there has been an accident. Could it be a cover up for a raid? Enrico has his men outside investigate but they are taken out by Henrietta and Triela. Then they storm into the place to take out the other men. Henrietta poses as a lost scared girl to get close to them and take them out. Enrico is finally cornered and gives up. In the aftermath as Jose treats Henrietta to gelato, they accidentally pass by Franca and Franco. They are relieved Enrico got arrested. Thinking that Henrietta belongs to a well to do family, it is girls like them that RF is supposed to protect.

Episode 7
Jean and Rico posing as a salesman and his sister on a business trip, meet Filippo Adani who is an accountant and also on vacation here in Firenze. Filippo seems knowledgeable in the arts and even accompanies them to an art museum. Jean notices a couple of men spying on Filippo and also making shady terrorism orders. On pretence to go make a phone call, Jean interrogates one of them in the toilet. It seems they are from RF and are following Filippo to eliminate him and recover Bigliazzi’s private ledger. When they leave the art museum, somewhere in the alley they are surrounded by those men. They threaten to kill innocent people if Filippo doesn’t hand over the ledger. Filippo is about to do it to spare Rico’s life but that isn’t necessary. Jean and Rico go into action and shoot them dead. They start running when more men come chasing. While they hide, Filippo explains why he is wanted. The ledger exposes Bigliazzi’s funding to RF. Also, he heard about their terrorist plot that they didn’t want it leaked. Filippo loved arts but his father wanted him to become an accountant like he wanted. So he gave up his dream of being one. But being an accountant he discovered his father dodged tax for 20 years and funding terrorist groups. He couldn’t take it anymore and ran away. Knowing Bigliazzi was in cahoots with the police, if he was going to be assassinated, he wanted to see Firenze one last time. They continue to make a run but Filippo gets shot in the hand. They manage to make it to Jose and Henrietta waiting for them. A car chase ensues. So as not to involve the tourists, they had to drive to somewhere deserted before the girls could return fire and stop the chase. Filippo thinks he is done for and is glad he visited those cities one last time. He is tired of living. Rico thinks it would be a waste if he dies. It would be better if he drew paintings in this world and besides, Firenze is such a beautiful place.

Episode 8
Dr Fernando Bianchi examines Henrietta. Despite saying she is okay, he wants her to control her emotions. Next he examines Angelica. First he lets her see pictures and see how many she recognizes. When asked about the pasta story, she doesn’t remember. Bianchi then talks to Jose and Marco Toni (Angelica’s Handler). He wants Jose to have more faith in Henrietta while Marco to renew his former interest in Angelica. However Marco is frustrated. He worked hard to teach Angelica a lot of stuffs but those conditioning doctors made her forget everything. Marco continues to treat Angelica indifferent and tells her to do more training. Flashback reveals Angelica was almost killed by her parents. Her father’s factory had gone bankrupt and prior to that he took out a life policy on his daughter. The worst, right? At that time, Marco was hired into the agency upon Bianchi’s recommendation after getting fired for his failing eyesight. He is introduced to Angelica whom the doctors just saved from death. As he accompanies her, he starts telling her the pasta story to divert her attention away from the pain. Didn’t work. But she would like to hear more of it. As Marco’s unit rarely sees any action, they spend more time trying to come up with that pasta story! Marco also had a girlfriend who is a children’s storybook writer, Patricia. Because of the secrecy of his job, he can’t tell her much except to care for a child and telling her stories. One day, his unit members got into a fight. Angelica tried to stop them and got slightly injured. At the same time, cybernetics were introduced and Marco’s unit was sent into action. After the successful mission, the unit members apologize to Angelica but she doesn’t remember them. Marco became devastated. Patricia broke up with him although she heard from Bianchi about the pasta story and turned it into a book. Now Marco doesn’t tell Angelica the story anymore. He doesn’t want to think his actions were in vain but she no longer remembers the story.

Episode 9
Once Lauro gives the okay sign, Elsa barges into the room and guns down everyone Rambo style! Wow. She also takes pictures of evidence as ordered. As Elsa is also one of those cyborg girls at the agency, she rarely mixes with the rest and always stays in her room by herself. She only sticks closely to Lauro. Lauro talks to Jose that they are working together for the next mission. It is to take out a local police chief. Lauro killed an officer of his as warning but he remained stubborn to back down and even threatened to reveal the agency’s existence. Thus the agency has approved his assassination. Henrietta goes to Elsa’s room to talk to her. However Elsa has nothing to say to her and warns if she gets in Lauro’s way, she’ll kill her. Asked why she is being a lone wolf, Elsa asks back if other cyborgs are your own partner is more important. As Lauro is most important to her, nothing else matters. She will use all his time for him. She claims the rest do not have love. Henrietta protests because she loves Jose too. In that case there is nothing more to talk. As they set up their sniping position, Lauro could see Elsa quite eager. They have one shot to pull this assassination. Elsa watches in envy how close Henrietta is to Jose. As the target pulls up, Lauro notices Elsa not focusing. Heck, her gun safety is still on. This forces Lauro to order Jose to switch with her. The target is perfectly taken out with Jose hitting the first time followed by Henrietta just to make sure. Time to escape. But Elsa only stood there in shock. Lauro calls her useless and leaves her there.

Episode 10
Henrietta is surprised Jose is taking her on a trip to Sicily. Did something happen? Elsa and Lauro were found murdered in the park. The murderers have not been found yet. Henrietta looks at it in a positive light since Elsa will now forever be with Lauro. Jean and Rico spearhead the investigation. He believes the culprits could be from RF, the southern mafia or another government agency. Pietro Fermi from Section 1 (another section of the agency) is told by his boss that this is the best time to put some pressure on Section 2 (Handlers and their cyborg girls) because he ultimately wants this section closed. So he and his assistant, Eleanora Gabrielli do their own investigation and mostly they ask Jean lots of questions regarding the agency and the Fratello. Fermi tries to test what Jean said is true about the cyborg girls so he throws a coin at him. Rico swiftly grabs it and points her gun at him all within a blink of an eye. Further investigations showed that Elsa fired 2 shots but the bullets are missing. Fermi and Gabrielli visit Elsa’s room which is drab and empty. Then they go talk with Triela. So far the cyborg girls aren’t really sad over Elsa’s death because she was a loner and how close she was to Lauro. Jean receives the results from the bullets that killed Elsa and Lauro. It hints that this is going to be troublesome. Jean suggests hiding the ballistics info and blame it on malfunction. That way the pressure on them would stop if they admit it is their own mistake. They will report it is Elsa fought and died for her master. Further investigations show the blood sample of the murderers found at the park belonged to suspects from RF. Fermi asks Rico if she would gladly die for her master. Jean interjects that it is only natural they do so. Thus Rico replies if he says so, then so be it.

Episode 11
Fermi and Gabrielli head to Sicily to visit Jose and Henrietta on holiday. They know where they are because Triela told them and also to learn better about the Handler and cyborg girls’ relationship. Jose has Henrietta cook dinner but since he hints it won’t taste tasty, Gabrielli supervises her. They have to buy ingredients so they go out shopping. Along the way, a snatch thief snatches Henrietta’s bag. She chases after him and when she catches up, grabs him by the neck. Gabrielli uses her police authority to stop what is happening. She lets the thief go if he returns the handbag otherwise she can arrest him as he reeks of marijuana. The handbag is important to Henrietta as Jose bought a camera for her. Meanwhile the guys talk things out. Jose explains about the conditioning of the girls and how Handlers are free to condition however they want as long as they get the job done. Though he doesn’t condition Henrietta much nor forces her to love him. Either way, Fermi finds it disgusting to have a partnership like that because even if it doesn’t look like much doesn’t make it acceptable. Jose agrees. Fermi is also suspicious that everything sounds too convenient. When Elsa and Lauro were found murdered, suddenly they knew who did it. As Jose explains about the cyborgs’ enhanced abilities, Fermi didn’t like how he was trying to paint the girls protected their master. It may be the truth but it isn’t right. In the end, these girls are just normal teens. Is Jose saying he would be okay if Henrietta dies for him? When Gabrielli tries to tell how Henrietta should act like a girl, she starts crying. Jose was trying to do the same to her. She knows she is strong enough to kill people. As a cyborg, she cannot be useful to Jose as a normal girl. She knows how Elsa died and has the rest gathered. First she asks if Elsa loved Lauro. Definitely. Did Lauro love her back? Not really. He was too busy focusing on work. Imagine having an unrequited love. It was too much to bear for Elsa after realizing he would never feel the same way. She shot him in the back before turning the gun on herself. Henrietta even demonstrates this! Jose and Fermi rush to grab her gun. Phew. What a scare. She assures she will never do this because he is so nice to her. Later Fermi says he won’t tell this to his boss because by now Section 2 must have destroyed all evidence. Flashback shows Elsa did that because Lauro didn’t remember named her here at this park. He didn’t really care about it.

Episode 12
Angelica sprains her ankle during training. The higher ups don’t really like since after Elsa’s incident and now this. Since they have been producing results, they are allowed to continue for now but can’t keep covering for Section 2 forever. Jean briefs the team of their next mission. RF plans to abduct Caterina Sanctis, the daughter of a powerful senator. It is suggested to use one of the cyborg girls as decoy in her place. This will lead them to their hideout and they will wipe them all out. It is risky but they need results. It is suggested Claes will be the decoy. The plan goes well as Claes is abducted and the terrorists have not figured out who she is as a ransom note to the senator is made shortly. Claes is calm and reading her book while being watched over. Franca talks to her and because of her mature answer, Franca hopes she can teach these idiots a lesson. One, she believes these blokes are planning not to let Claes leave because they are letting her see all their faces. The agency has tracked Claes being held in the mountains. They make their haste and preparations stealthily and give the terrorists the element of surprise by gunning all of them down! Claes isn’t going to be a damsel in distress. She overwhelms her watcher and then takes out the electricity. Angelica defied orders and runs to rescue Claes. At this point she isn’t in her room. A terrorist catches her. Although luckily Claes returned and killed the terrorist, the stray bullet injured Angelica. As she is stretchered away, Marco scolds her for being reckless. Angelica recovers and the girls wish her well. But she doesn’t look happy. Suddenly out of character she bursts that they’re all going to die without knowing the truth. If Marco is going to treat her coldly, she might as well die now. Claes slaps her. If she wants to die, then go ahead. She shouldn’t have saved her then.

Episode 13
What Angelica said still bothers Henrietta. Marco apparently overheard that so now he is on a personal mission to find Angelica’s old dog? On Jose’s advice, Henrietta pays Angelica another visit. It seems Angelica is reminiscing about Pedro, her old dog. Angelica might be losing her memories because shortly she says she didn’t realize Henrietta was here. And subsequently when Claes visits to apologize, Angelica doesn’t recognize who visited before her. Henrietta confronts Marco that Angelica is talking about Pedro. Can we help find it? Marco says don’t bother. He doesn’t know where her old dog is. Henrietta hopes Marco could go see Angelica even if he can’t do anything for her now. Just be with her. He then asks if she is afraid of dying. No. Not afraid fighting and dying for Jose. Does she resent being given a mechanical body, a gun and a short lifespan? If he pities them for that, he is mistaken. This may be conditioning but she is fine with it. Even so, she is still fine with it and believes Angelica feels the same way. While the girls go watch the meteor shower that night, Marco pays Angelica a visit. She is happy to see him. She wants him to read that pasta story and amidst Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Angelica closes her eyes and sleeps… Forever? :’(.

Il Teatrino

Episode 1
A demonstration in Rome turns ugly and violent. Section 2 is monitoring the situation and predicts the Republicans may use this as an opportunity. The Fratello are sent in to observe. An explosion occurs near Jose and Henrietta. He is just slightly injured but no biggie. They notice one of the police officers backing out and running away into a van. They give chase by borrowing Priscilla’s Vespa. Too bad she won’t get it back in one piece… The van is guided into a small alley whereby the Fratello ambush them. Some are killed on the spot while some are injured and taken into custody. Back in the agency, Henrietta visits Jose’s room but he isn’t in. Creepily she starts hugging and smelling his shirt while lying on his bed. Then she sits in his chair. What is she? Goldilocks? Then she opens a present he supposedly bought for her from France on his table. It is a golden kaleidoscope but underneath it states it is for the person he loves the most, Louise Antoinette Rolle. Must be his girlfriend. Don’t feel too good now, eh? Henrietta tells Triela and Claes about it. Claes explains that person must be dead over a century ago. That name belongs to a French writer’s lover in which he based one of his stories on her. The name of that character was Henrietta. Thus the present is for her. Relieved Henrietta goes back to Jose’s room to apologise but he isn’t mad about somebody leaving a mess in his room and takes her to see the stars. Later it is revealed Claes lied about this story. She made it up because the kaleidoscope wasn’t invented then. That present is most probably fake too.

Episode 2
When Pinocchio was a young boy, he was tasked in assassinating someone. After a bit of a struggle he kills him but his daughter witnessed it. Hesitating initially, Pinocchio eventually kills her. Now all grown up, he continues his assassination ways. He meets up with his uncle, Cristiano who wants to send him to Montalcino to work with a few people in a new big mission. Later Cristiano talks to a few other guys to plan halting the construction of the Strait of Messina Bridge. Cristiano is drawing up plans to bomb it and will have Franca and Franco part of it. Franca and Franco meet up with Pinocchio. Franco knows his specialty is knives but still doesn’t trust him. He wants to test him as he pulls out a gun. Pinocchio is confident he can still take him down at this distance and use Franco’s old leg wound to his advantage. Still want to test him out? Pinocchio goes out shopping to make dinner. Aurora is a girl who is always following him and wants to help him out with whatever chores. This time Pinocchio tells her to stop following her around because she is annoying. Nothing good will come if she hangs around him because he is a naughty kid like Pinocchio. Franca tells Pinocchio about the job of blowing the bridge. As it is still under construction, there are only the pillar bases. If an amateur tries to blow it up, it wouldn’t take down a structure this size. Also, leaving jobs to other people will often get unnecessary people involved. Apparently Franca doesn’t consider herself like other terrorists. She only approves of necessary murder otherwise she is just an outlaw. Pinocchio feels sorry that her gentle ways in choosing who to kill will only be a hindrance. Just as Cristiano is everything to Pinocchio because he raised him, Franca is someone who gave Franco a goal. Good news we see Angelica alive and well recovering. But she still feels awkward with Marco. They will be heading to Milan for an operation soon.

Episode 3
Hilshire and Triela are tasked to head to Montalcino to look for a missing public safety member, Cohen who was on a mission looking for Pinocchio. They bribe the receptionist to book the same room Cohen stayed. They look around for clues as Triela spots a Pinocchio storybook in his suitcase and reads it. Aurora is outside Pinocchio’s place but nobody is in. Triela talks to her and learns indeed Pinocchio is renting this place. She drops a microphone in her basket. Triela returns to Hilshire and continue their stakeout across the place. Aurora lets herself into Pinocchio’s place. Nobody is in. She sees and picks up a gun on the table. Franca thinks she is one of those government’s assassins and tells her to drop it. She becomes scared as Franco disarms her. Aurora pleads to Pinocchio for help but he ties her up. Hilshire wants Triela to get ready and break in instead of waiting for back up and despite not knowing how many enemies are inside. Pinocchio is going to kill Aurora since she knows their identity. Franca disallows it. When Triela comes busting in, the guys split up to give her multiple targets. Eventually she and Pinocchio had a fist fight. He is faster than her and knocks her out! Pinocchio wanted to shoot Triela with her own gun but his past trauma prevented him so. Hilshire confronts Franca but she too gives him the slip. The trio ultimately slip away in their Alfa Romeo. Pinocchio realizes he dropped his pendant from Cristiano during the scuffle. Triela is awakened by Hilshire. Though he views everything as fine (Aurora is safe and they got away with minimal injuries – but Cohen’s body was found in the wine cellar), Triela is not happy that as a cyborg lost barehanded! She lost her cool. Hilshire sees the pendant and picks it up. Franca tells Pinocchio to forget about the pendant. No matter how memorable an item is, it can never replace the real thing. What is important is in the heart.

Episode 4
Bruno might look like a good husband and father but his job is disposing bodies of those killed under Cristiano’s orders. Since Marco and Angela will be on Pinocchio’s case, he drops by his old police department to meet an old friend to get some info. His hands are tied but he’ll try. Since Priscilla and Olga are here to watch over them, Marco might as well has them help him out. Marco wants Angelica to give her gun case to Priscilla and doesn’t want her to go into action. Because Marco is busting some punks’ ass in the alley for more information. Bruno sees Cristiano as they discuss about the government who has been illegally arresting them and then trying to pass a law to make their actions legal. At this rate, Italy will turn into a warzone. Cristiano hopes Bruno can meet with Pinocchio after his vacation. Marco continues his busting, this time taking down a few guys in a hideout. Angelica is acting strange. She grabs Priscilla’s wrist to the point she crushes it! It took Marco to snap her out of it. He realizes she needs her medicine. After he feeds her, he can’t understand why she is acting so as she has been taking the prescribed medication as instructed by the doctor. Priscilla hopes Marco won’t tell this to Jean because she thinks he’ll put Angelica back in hospital again. Later Olga tells Marco about Angelica’s strange behaviour. She believes he didn’t show her enough love. This is her first time in a while she is on a job so please show some consideration. The agency go into action to corner and take out Bruno. Luckily his car is bulletproof. For some dumb or desperate reason, his assistant winds down the window to fire back and gets shot. Could have stayed safe inside. Bruno crashes the car. The airbag saves him but he is unconscious. Rico is supposed to kill him but is interrupted by Angelica who happily tells her how Marco praised her for doing her best. Huh? The jobs not over, right?

Episode 5
Flashback shows after Marco got injured, he was discharged from the police force. His then girlfriend Patricia was very concerned although he seems optimistic about his new posting at the agency. She would have preferred the gentle him when he was on the force but he wanted to see how far he can go. Now, if it seems awkward that a dumb assassin tries to go up close and assassinate a politician and then got taken down himself, it is all just a plot set up to rile up and flush our those terrorist with some fake news. One month after the Milan incident, Angelica is still clumsy undergoing training. Marco still isn’t as kind as before since he believes the Angelica he knew was gone forever. Triela continues to fret about her loss to Pinocchio. Hilshire buys her a new gun till she can get her old one back. Patricia meets up with a reporter, Leonardo Conti. He tells her about the agency is actually an intelligence agency run by the government and that Marco is part of it. Patricia knows that. Not because Marco told her as she can tell since he always had to work hard every day for special operations. Thus it was probably that broke them up. Though, Patricia blames herself for hurting him. However Patricia doesn’t know the agency is using child assassins. Leonardo suggests teaming up to uncover the truth. They go round interviewing various people but it feels like their answers are all premeditated and the same. Leonardo is seen making a call to some guy about some kidnapping stint to draw a certain party’s attention. Leonardo and Patricia bust into supposedly a hideout of the agency. The place is empty. Leonardo is ambushed by Marco who is shocked to realize Leonardo knows a lot about him. Even more shock when he sees Patricia with him (so is she). He tells her to get away from him as he is part of the terrorist group. Leonardo then takes Patricia hostage and says he was just using her. Leonardo mocks Marco for conspiring with the government to commit crimes to the point of dumping his girlfriend. At a deadlock, Angelica busts in to take him down. Patricia wants answers but all Marco can tell her is to stay out of this. It’s not like he ended up this way because he wanted to.

Episode 6
Franca, Franco and Pinocchio take refuge at Franca’s winery currently being looked after by an old couple. Franca calls Cristiano to update about their situation. He tells her they are going to go ahead with the kidnapping job of Isabella D’Angelo who is the chairwoman for the Messina bridge project. He wants her to contact Nino Feretti since they know each other. Henrietta puts up a violin play for Isabella. She is amazed despite being a cyborg, she is still human-like. However she cannot accept that she is used to do the government’s dirty work. She is explained that the cybernetics technology used on her will help save many lives in the future and perhaps find a way to cure Isabella who is paralyzed from waist down. Rico was a bit rough on the kaleidoscope and a part breaks. This makes Henrietta mad. Jose takes it to repair in hopes the girls will reconcile. The repairman is no other than Nino. He assures he can fix it in 3 days. Jose tells Isabella that her life is being targeted. He sounds harsh telling her to turn her eyes away if she doesn’t want to see dirty things (the girls were preparing their guns before her). Isabella thought Jose is a scary person since he lost a loved one. Henrietta disagrees and calls him the kindest person ever because he sent her kaleidoscope to be fixed. Asking if Isabella hates terrorists. She once did a long time ago. Now she has lost her conviction. She thought of following her late husband’s will to complete the bridge but now isn’t sure if it is worth the blood it has shed. Jose and Rico apprehend Isabella’s bodyguard who is a sleeper terrorist. They will use him in a sting operation.

Nino is met by Franca. She wants his help to make bombs for the bridge despite hearing rumours he has quit. However he isn’t interested. Not even avenging his brother. Franca gives her contacts in case he changes his mind. When Nino and Leone are scouting Isabella’s movements, Nino recognizes Henrietta coming out. After receiving word that some of their men got arrested, Nino knows the risks are too high and wants them to pull out of this operation. Some of their men are disgruntled. Leone explains he knew Nino from university days. Along with his brother they used to make bombs and blow up anything but one day his brother got killed by the police and Nino became a coward ever since. They decide to go ahead with the operation without him. They thought they could kidnap an old paralyzed woman but Henrietta and the agency gun them all down! Franca meets Nino at the train station. He is leaving. She doesn’t like it but he believes she’ll understand one day. He asks her what she is fighting against. When will she be satisfied? Even if she has avenged her father, who must she kill until she has reached her goal? Better to consider this now while she has the time before she turns into an old dog like him who has lost the ability to run. Henrietta is happy the kaleidoscope is fixed but is told Nino has already quit.

Episode 7
Flashback shows Franca (whose real name is Caterina) was in the same university as Patricia but she decided to drop out to sue to country to free her father. She was also the one who hooked up Patricia with Marco. Her father was wrongfully imprisoned for crimes he did not commit and he died in prison. Instead of searching for the truth, she decided to go for revenge. She then went to find Franco (as told by her uncle Angelo Marinov) to learn making bombs but Franco was in depression since his grandpa who taught him how to make bombs just passed away. She was adamant to be his disciple despite he told her to be a nun if she wanted to change the world (and she slapped him). Franco then introduced Franca to Nino and his brother. It is then he gave her this Franca nickname. In present time, Franca is spotted by some agents. They recognize her as a wanted terrorist. So they stage a car breakdown and pregnant woman going in labour act to get her to stop. She is sharp enough to fight back but is overwhelmed. She is taken to their hideout where one of them beats the crap out of her. It is his revenge because one of her bombs gravely injured his pregnant wife who still has shrapnel inside her tummy and lost a few body parts. She tells him everyone carries their own grudge. Don’t think he is special because of his own issues. More beat down. Franco realizes the tracker on Franca has stopped for a while. Time to go save her. So they barge into the hideout with Pinocchio slicing his enemies and Franco giving ‘special treatment’ to Franca’s basher by pumping lots of lead into his body. Subsequently the authorities have to clean up this mess. A bomb trap was placed underneath one of the bodies. Had not Henrietta reacted swiftly, a lot would have died. Though, some agents and Triela got injured. Pinocchio is glad Cristiano is here but soon becomes sad since he wants to see Franca. Even more frowning when Cristiano learns he hesitated to kill on a recent job. That means an assassin is already at the end of his job. However Cristiano puts back some smiles when he commends him for saving Franca.

Episode 8
Because Claes don’t get much screen time, this episode is dedicated to see her daily life. She wakes up crying after dreaming about her times with Raballo. She has been reading books about minerals so she is somewhat quite interested with some meteorite stone. Not sure if the girls have to buy their own food because at the cafeteria, Beatrice is looking hungry. Claes could offer her food but she’ll make her work for it. And that’s helping with her garden. Then she goes for her usual lab experiment. Because she has also read about Scarborough Fair, she ponders its lyrics’ meaning. Be prepared to be spammed hearing this song throughout this episode. Not a bad thing, though. Heck, Claes even plays this on the piano. Then Jean takes her to watch some nature documentary. She asks if one cannot cry even when sad. That’s how she is feeling now. She can’t cry watching this show but yet she shed tears while sleeping without knowing it. Claes then visits the shooting range and watch some practice there. Then she goes join Priscilla and Angelica on the former’s Vespa. I guess they’re small enough to fit all 3 of them. At night, Claes draws a painting as she ponders more about Scarborough Fair’s lyrics. Next day, she continues her gardening. She finds an odd mineral in the soil. Beatrice doesn’t understand why Claes finds doing this fun. She doesn’t even understand the concept of fun. She feels nothing. So how can Claes feel fun? She believes someone taught her a long time ago.

Episode 9
Many years ago when Jose was going to leave to join the military police, his younger sister, Enrica didn’t want to be left alone. Although their parents and Jean will be around, she didn’t really like them because they were always too busy about work and never cared for her. She too wanted to join the military police to be with him but he told her it is better she became a harpist. Jose goes to see an old friend from the military police, Marcantonio. They talk about the old days like how Jose and Jean quit over some incident and the broadcast went crazy about it. A car bomb outside rocks the place but aside from the initial shock, everything else is okay. Jean and Rico then track and hunt down the bomber. They force him to bring them to his hideout where they discover high grade military bombs. Somebody must be smuggling them out. Because he won’t talk further. Jean gives Rico permission to beat the crap out of him till he talks! Jean learns from his superior that Colonel Ganny, commander of the Morize commissariat might be smuggling those bombs out. It isn’t mere coincidence the terrorists are very well equipped recently. If only there is proof of that, the agency will mark him for assassination. Jose talks to Bianchi about all he ever does for Henrietta is talk about myths and stars. Presents he gave are out of obligation. It feels empty. Bianchi doesn’t think it is a bad thing since that child needs to be loved. It reminds Jose of Enrica’s case of loneliness. The agency set traps to ambush a military truck suspected of smuggling. When they fail to surrender as warned, they go all out and shoot back. Man, the girls really riddled the truck with holes! Overkill! Jose is shocked and sickened to see the driver is Marcantonio. Later it is discovered that Marcantonio has been smuggling weapons from Ganny. They now have permission to assassinate him. So what it looked like Jose and Jean being good Handlers dressing up their girls so they can enjoy the opera, they are actually on the job to assassinate Ganny and his subordinate who are also watching the opera which is also about revenge and murder. Italians love tragedies, they say? The mission is successful. Too bad the girls didn’t get to see much of the opera, though.

Episode 10
Flashback shows Victor Hartmann (Hilshire’s real name) wanted to do field work in Europol as he wanted to stop child trafficking. However his boss refused him and showed him a snuff movie. Movies that murder people for entertainment. While many are fake, some are real and it involved kidnapped children. He became disillusioned at how evil the world is. Similarly, Rachelle Belleut a doctor who is sick of seeing children corpses teamed up with Hartmann to take matters into their own hands. Triela isn’t pleased that she needs to babysit Mario’s daughter, Mimi. Seems she wants to do more training and her loss to Pinocchio has hit her hard. Eventually she can’t disobey orders and with other agents, they watch over her (it’s like she’s under house arrest) while Mario gives his testimony at a trial in Naples. Triela and Mimi get acquainted with the latter asking if she likes Hilshire. Shock at first, Triela dismisses of anything like that since they can’t have such a relationship. Hilshire visits Mario. The trial is going well and is expected to end without a hitch. When it ends, Mario plans to escape overseas. More flashback when Hartmann and Rachelle stormed into an Amsterdam trafficking. In a gunfight, Rachelle was seriously wounded. They stumbled upon a child victim, Triela. It made Hartmann sick but Rachelle refused to give up and did CPR on her. When Triela revived, Rachelle died. It’s like they transferred life force? Triela is in a training with some army commando who is Hilshire’s acquaintance. Because she is still bitter about her loss to Pinocchio, she can’t concentrate and gets easily beaten up. He promises to turn her into an unbeatable warrior in 2 weeks. Triela then undergoes her usual maintenance but this time will receive a new leg implant. It is 100% effective thanks to the experiments done on Claes. During the operation, Triela is seen to shed tears. When she wakes up, she tells how she dreamt of her mom. The way she describes her seems so much like Rachelle.

Episode 11
When Cristiano was still a hitman, he and his best henchman, John wiped out an entire family perfectly as ordered. Cristiano stumbled upon a hidden cellar in which a child was locked up there. He decided to adopt him. It has been a few months and Pinocchio has gotten used to being a grape farmer. If life was only this peaceful till the end. Pinocchio talks to Franco about getting used to this life because it dulls his skills. He then goes on to explain his story how John was his teacher and taught him assassination techniques. He loves drinking and was believed to be an ex-CIA operative. However one day he just suddenly died from a stray bullet. Pinocchio views Franca and Franco as good people and it would be a waste if they died like John. Franca gets a call from her uncle to update her that Cristiano has lost his position. Thanks to the halt in supply of bombs and the failed kidnapping, the higher ups wanted somebody to take the fall. He advises her if she still wants to continue what she is doing, cut ties with him. Talking to Franco, he knows they could be at a disadvantage if Cristiano goes missing because the Milan group will then cooperate with the government to hunt him down. But there is a way to reinstate Cristiano’s position. They need to blow up the bridge as soon as possible. Although it is still at an early stage, with the stock they have, it is enough to do some damage. Information gets leaked to the agency about Cristiano and the Fratello is mobilized. Franca and the men drive to the bridge. It is heavily guarded and the Fratello teams are there. Flashback shows Cristiano didn’t like the idea John taught him assassination skills. John thought he had a natural talent for it. He did it on a whim and Cristiano can’t be one to say since he adopted him on a whim too.

Episode 12
Henrietta spots something off at the base of the bridge. Franca and Franco are boring holes and planting their bomb supplies. She shoots at them but Pinocchio attacks her. He sticks a knife in her shoulder. Nothing happens. Though, I suppose she can’t shoot straight at him since he escapes with Franca and Franco via boat. Franco gets shot in the shoulder. Then he activates the bomb. It didn’t do any damage to the bridge although it gave out quite a lot of smoke. On the way back to the vineyard, Pinocchio apologizes to Franco for hesitating to shoot. He explains when he first killed, there was a girl who looked like Henrietta. He killed her. It made him scared to point a gun at a girl. They decide to tell him about Cristiano’s case so the early next morning, Pinocchio leaves for his uncle. Triela visits the house where she fought Pinocchio and lost. Why do this to yourself if you’re only going to have bitter memories? Cristiano is surprised Pinocchio is here. He heard Cristiano will be arrested by the police and wants him to leave. But Cristiano doesn’t intend to and wants Pinocchio to escape. Pinocchio is willing to fight here and die for him. He owes his life to him for saving him from that cellar and gave him a name. Since Cristiano remains stubborn, Pinocchio threatens to kill everyone here! WTF?! The Fratello begin their operation to take in Cristiano and kill everyone else. They barge into the place and gun down everyone. No chance to even let them fight back! Triela gets her rematch with Pinocchio when they come face to face.

Episode 13
As their fight gets underway, when Pinocchio hears Triela telling Hilshire to go find Cristiano, he ditches the fight to find his uncle. He finds his uncle and is appalled he still hasn’t left. Cristiano tells him that he has decided. He will hide for a while so Pinocchio should escape too. The mind boggling thing was why didn’t they go together? Because of that, Pinocchio returns to his fight with Triela and Cristiano tries to get away with his butler but he was killed by Rico. Rico shoots at his shoulder before taking him away into their car. As she is loading him, she is run over by another car! Not sure if this is a joke if women are terrible drivers with Franca behind the wheel. After they load Cristiano, they make a dash for it. This is where it gets super silly. Jean informs Marco the target is heading their way. So Marco has Angelica snipe them. She got a few bullets into Franca (although not her vitals) but Franca steps on the pedal and I don’t even know how the car ‘flew’ over them!!! Was there a ramp somewhere???!!! And they lose them???!!! Franca is fast passing out. You can’t take that corner at high speed. Off the rails. Off the cliff. Into the river. We return to the bloody and desperate dogfight between Triela and Pinocchio whereby anything now goes. He gets madder when he sees his pendant in her possession. He shoots her a few times with her own gun but she survives. But it’s her turn to be mad because of that. Is she going to lose again? In the end, they knock each other out. Or so it seems from this point of view. In the aftermath, Rico reports they ‘failed’ the mission. Cristiano’s mansion is searched all over but no evidence was found. They believed he deleted all and anticipated them to raid. Also, the car in the river, no bodies were found. Rico and Triela are heavily injured but not fatal. Triela sits next to Pinocchio’s dead body. She stabbed his heart with a broken knife. She finds comfort in Hilshire’s arms and hopes he would praise her for win. At what cost? The other girls also get their ‘praise’ from their Handlers.

Jean visits the grave of Sophia. He sees Fernando there but the latter isn’t happy Jean is here. He blames Jean for Sophia’s death in the sense that he didn’t avenge her. Jean apologizes but Fernando punches him. Jean notices his political affiliation with the opposition and warns him not to get involved. Fernando won’t listen. So what does Jean have anything to do with them? Jean was supposed to marry Sophia. After Fernando left, Jean calls Jose that he is acting strange and to tail him. Business as usual. This leads them to discover Fernando is trying to ambush a place that a terrorist is hiding out on his own. Luckily Marco busts him before the rest storm in to apprehend the terrorist for more details. Rico wakes up from a nightmare where Jean abandoned her when she became useless. Jean takes Rico to Venice for their next mission. He explains about the Republicans originally wanted to divide Italy into 5 parts: Milan in the North, Rome, Naples, Sardinia and Sicily. With the Milan faction trying to unite all north, there is a breakaway faction, the Venetian faction who wishes for autonomy. Arriving at Milan, they meet Alto Meyer who helps them out with some information. Night falls and they begin their mission. Rico does her usual, storming into some baddies’ place and killing all of them. They obtained easy data from their laptop about the organization. Seeing how calm they are and the bloody mess everywhere, Meyer is sick to his gut they can act normal after all this. Next day, Jean and Rico continue chasing and gunning down more terrorists. When Rico seems to get hit, she falls into the sea. Jean instantly dives into rescue her. During evening, Rico loves how beautiful the sunset is but for Jean, it always makes him sad.

Hilshire accompanies Henrietta and Rico on their vacation. They pass the Messina Bridge which is on schedule to be completed. Meanwhile Triela is depressed? After defeating Pinocchio, what else is left of her existence? Or maybe she didn’t get to be with Hilshire this time. Henrietta and Rico return to their respective Handlers once the trip is over. Jose gives Henrietta a nice dress to wear. When Jean sees it, he is in shock. Let me guess. It belongs to Enrica, right? Flashback shows Jean was about to leave for Rome for training but Enrica didn’t want him to go because of the promise they along with Jose to go on a boat ride. Too bad his training is more important than sister time. Then it gets creepy because while Jean is reminiscing about his past, the ghost of Enrica haunts him! OMG! Is this turning supernatural now?! I want to say Jean is seeing things but ghost girl did mention that she died. She blames Jean for being the bad brother while comparing to angelic Jose. Jean never thinks about her except avenging Sophia. However she now feels Jose is being cruel for giving her dress to another girl. She wonders if he has found someone to replace her. Jean ‘agrees’ because this is his way of always thinking of her. Had he not done that, he couldn’t have lived what would have transpired then. If she wants to hate somebody, hate him. Jean is snapped out when Rico calls him since she finds it odd he is like talking to somebody but nobody’s there. Next day, Jean tells Jose about that ghastly incident. Was it a ghost or a dream? He asks if Jose still remembers that boat promise. Of course. Jean hopes they could do it later with Henrietta and Rico. Can this be simply atoned like that?

Sending Girls To Do A Man’s Job
Oh dear… What a boring end to the series that started out as something interesting. Forgive me if you are going to hear a lot of comparison between both seasons because they are very different to each other in almost every aspect. So different that if you have watched the first season and have gotten somewhat used to its style, you will be in total shock to see the total change and revamp in Il Teatrino. Yes, very different. Although Il Teatrino didn’t match up to the first season, it still was passable. Barely. However the couple of OVAs really killed it. It was unnecessary and did nothing much to develop anything except bring forth more questions like what happened to Franca and Franco. Because if they have been simply killed off, that would have ended there as it is but now they are missing. So? Possible clash in the future. Too bad there aren’t any more seasons. And what is with this Enrica thingy in the end? It is not like it resolved anything. It’s like they had no more ideas for the OVAs and inserted something so random just to milk our moneys out of the BDs. But that’s not the point.

The first thing I will compare is the main story of both seasons. In the first season, we are mainly concentrated on the main girls of the Fratello. We see their past and flashback as well as how they currently cope with their current Handlers. Although the bulk is on Henrietta and Jose, the rest have their bit of fair share of screen time. Thus many of the episodes in between feel like standalone fillers and does not have a real proper plot. Come the second season, there now seems to be a ‘plot’. Although this ‘plot’ seems to be dragging out too long because if you think about it, it’s just mainly about the agency trying to track down Pinocchio’s team and preventing the bombing of a bridge. So much so this dragging out that they had to insert some fillers, detours and flashbacks halfway through the season before ending it all.

The next and perhaps the most shocking difference is the characters. One can obviously tell how ‘lively’ the girls are in Il Teatrino compared to the original. In the first season, the girls were like lifeless robots. Even if they show a bit of emotion or smile a little bit, it looked fake and sometimes forced. This is not a bad thing given the situation and setting of the story. It is a rather gloomy and grim world they are in after all. Then when Il Teatrino arrives, all of a sudden they are so lively! OMG! It’s like the doctors tweaked them to be livelier than ever. Take for instance Rico. I remember she was the taciturn sniper at first. But in the sequel, she is totally an active kid!!! WTF?! I noticed that when Henrietta or Rico answers or acknowledges their respective Handler, they have this boring and monotonous robotic tone to it. But now they have this lively feel in their voice like as though they are happy and looking forward to do their bidding!

Given that Henrietta had more focus in the first season, I suppose they try to give Triela a little more in Il Teatrino. Thus the reason why I felt why Triela had more presence in Il Teatrino due to her ‘grudge’ with Pinocchio than Henrietta especially towards the end since Henrietta was on ‘vacation’. Then it is Rico’s turn for the short OVAs albeit nothing really deep about her. I don’t know. It just feels so odd seeing the girls as cold killing machines during the mission but during off missions, they are like little sisters with brother complex trying to seek their Handler’s attention and blush each time they get praised or having something nice done to them (Henrietta and Angelica are the main offenders). Like as though everyone should have just retire and play house for the rest of their lives. You like little girls? Sure, pick one and ‘groom’ her the way you like. Spend more time with her. Treat her nice and good. She’ll love you back. Just mind a few cybernetic parts. If only reality was that easy.

Even their Handlers feel different. The most drastic one is Hilshire. I remember this dude as a taciturn guy who doesn’t show much of his emotions. But in Il Teatrino he is like more open and showing obvious concern for Triela. It’s really a big change. Even Jose who seems like he is ‘forcefully’ trying to be nice to Henrietta in the first season, in Il Teatrino he feels like her big brother! I think it is a bit annoying that in the second season whenever we get the chance to see Henrietta being treated nicely by Jose or something nice happens to them, you can see her nice little girl smile and relief like as though she’s a dog getting her reward. So while it seems more and more like Jose is genuinely getting used to treating Henrietta nice, it could hint that he might have been trying to use her as Enrica’s replacement. Either he has gotten over her or sees Enrica in Henrietta but calls her by a different name so as not to evoke whatever that painful incident. Like as though trying to make amends by spending time with the little sister that should have been. And Jean seems like a no nonsense guy with no emotions dedicated to his job. So they try to give him some guilt trip with Enrica just to show something. Something. Whatever that is. And since when did Marco sound more like a talkative young uncle?

The rest of the supporting casts don’t really matter because they’ll either be relegated to the background which is unimportant or if they are the bad guys, there is a high chance that they will be assassinated. Yeah, saves so much money and time compared to sending them to prison and awaiting trial because you have got to feed and house them and the likes. Whoops… Also, it saves brain power to think whatever happened to them. Unlike Franco and Franca… Just kill them off. Hence for the rest of the members at the agency, they aren’t really memorable. If so, perhaps for weird reasons like Priscilla who seems to be a lolicon (though not very obviously) and it is only okay because she is a woman. If she was a guy, imagine the backlash… Even a few other girls at the agency aren’t that memorable. I read there were a few that appeared in the manga but made only a small cameo in the anime. So like Beatrice, her brief introduction, a few missions here and there before being totally forgotten, I now only remember her as Claes’ garden lackey… Somebody should feed this girl enough. But really, lots of characters in this series do come and go. You hear them in one episode and then never to appear or be heard of again. Mostly getting killed off.

The most jarring and obvious difference that you will notice if you start watching Il Teatrino is the art style and visual. No doubt that both seasons are animated by different studios with the first season being animated by Madhouse (Death Note, One Punch Man, Black Lagoon) and the second by Artland (Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn, Senran Kagura, Mushishi). As we have gotten used to the first season’s style, Il Teatrino comes as a big shocker. The first season was so dull and gloomy in its colour that you could actually feel that the whole atmosphere was just dreary. It really fits the theme and mood of the series. Then comes Il Teatrino and it makes you go, “Why the heck is everything so much more colourful?!”. In fact, everything is so much brighter that it doesn’t reflect the grim assassination world that the girls live in. I have a hunch that it is supposed to match the ‘lively’ characters because had either one aspect be dull and the other be lively, it would be so contrasting that it would be confusing.

Heck, even the characters are looking a bit slightly different. They look so much more like your anime character. Okay, I might sound a bit confusing here but in the first season with the characters looking lacklustre and lifeless, suddenly they have this anime-like ‘life’ infused into their looks. Get what I mean? Okay, let me give you an example. Jose might not look like a typical Italian and a Japanese big brother in the first season, but in the second season, he looks even more like a Japanese big brother than ever. Get it? Okay, how about this. Henrietta looks more like an anime girl in Il Teatrino than in the first. Because the first season, the characters’ eyes are so lifeless and like zombies unlike in the second. Yes, the girls had those dead eyes and it really gives an impact when they respond even with emotions, they still feel lifeless. Though, I think the girls in the first season looks a bit ‘fat’. At least their faces. In conclusion, having such a lively and bright art style and colour doesn’t really suit and fit well to what it was already established. Besides, doesn’t the second season poor animation quality feel like it sucks?

Another major overhaul is the voice acting. In fact, the entire main and supporting casts are replaced in Il Teatrino. It is no wonder why the usual girls and their Handlers sound so off and different. And so much livelier. It really makes them out of their character from the ones we are used to from the first. I wanted to note how happy I was hearing Mamiko Noto’s voice as Elsa even if she was just cameo. And then… The horror… THEY KILLED OFF HER CHARACTER!!! OMFG!!! DID THIS ‘CURSE’ EVEN GO BACK AS FAR AS THIS ANIME???!!! WHAT THE F*CK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???!!! That was my true despair… Then like as though to make it up for my despair, they reinstated Mamiko Noto not as Elsa but as Patricia. They tried to troll me when they took her character as hostage because I really thought her Patricia character was going to die too. Phew… I believe Mamiko Noto is the only cast from the original season to be somewhat recalled for another role in the second. I forgive you for making such amends (even if it’s not intended).

The opening theme for the first season, The Light Before We Land by The Delgados is strange by itself. Totally sung in English, this slow rock has its overall pace remind me of The Beatles’ A Day In Life. The weird slow lazy-cum-dreamy voice the singer sings and drags her voice somewhat reminds me of John Lennon singing that song too. Even the way the electric guitar is played strikes a familiar chord. Even though this song is strange, at least it beats Il Teatrino’s opener, Tatta Hitotsu No Omoi by Kokia. Too much like anime pop that it doesn’t fit with the theme of the series. At least the first season’s ending theme, Dopo Il Sogno by Opus has this Italian soprano lady singing this dramatic and tragically- sounding piece. Not bad actually. Il Teatrino’s main ending theme, Doll by Lia is a slow ballad although I somehow feel this song is much suited for an anime produced by Key like Air, Kanon and Clannad. Seriously. There is also a version sung by Aoi Tada but they sound so close that I couldn’t hear the difference. She also sings a special ending theme, Scarborough Fair. The special ending for Il Teatrino’s final episode is also very Air-like too, Human by Lia.

The action bits are not the series’ strong point nor is it its main focus. What it does is just to complement and show us the gruesome things the girls have to put up. So expect lots of bullet holes and dead bodies to pile up. As I have mentioned in the poor animation style in Il Teatrino, hence some of the action scenes feel a bit cartoonish and poor quality. Thus the grimmer and darker first season has better looking gunfights that complement the overall mood.

Instead of sending in the army, they should just send these girls to do the job in taking out a dictator ruling his country with an iron fist or the drug cartel running their huge fields of marijuana. And if the world complains about them, I guess the girls can be sent to silence them either. No difference than being the villains themselves. So it goes to show how controversial the use of such young girls can be and how deadly it would be if they fall into the wrong hands.

Overall, the first season has set the pace and tone of the series and only for the second one to someone diminish and ruin the enjoyment. Not to say that Il Teatrino sucks but it sure could have done better than what has been seen. Like as though it downgraded itself and made it worse. Thanks a bunch, OVAs. But the thought of giving young girls a second chance in life but doing dirty jobs is something that will make you think hard if such life is worth living or they would be better off left for dead in the first place. Whatever your stance or standards, at least these girls have a chance in life no matter how small or minute it is. That is all that they need. Oh, and lots of love too. Because aside from all the cybernetic implants and enhancements, they still have the heart and soul of a human. And the irony is that it makes them more human than us who are completely of flesh and blood. Maybe it is that imperfection that makes us human.

Clockwork Planet

October 21, 2017

They say that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Heck, I still don’t really fully understand what why it is so despite my ‘extensive’ research over the internet (though I do understand its proverbial meaning). So why am I talking about broken time and the likes here? It’s time for one of those futuristic sci-fi action adventure drama thriller comedy romance anime! Okay, it doesn’t have anything directly to do with that. But it was rather interesting to read the setting of Clockwork Planet whereby the entire world has been destroyed but ‘saved’ when some genius turned and built everything on gears. Of course it couldn’t last forever as it starts to crumble once more. Just delaying the inevitable. And of course this is where our typical main character who might seem like a useless member in society has a hidden talent when he accidentally obtains some automaton and together they set the gears in motion of the future of mankind and this planet. Okay, maybe it does sound a little cliché…

Episode 1
As narrated, Earth was destroyed a long time ago but the appearance of a clocksmith only known as Y managed to recreate a destroyed with nothing but gears. But as they say, nothing lasts forever. So after a thousand years, the gears start to collapse. Naoto Miura is a kid who is fascinated with anything with gears. He is a clocksmith wannabe but from the looks of it, he is a failure. Till a coffin containing a beautiful life-like automaton crash into his place. I’m sure he wants to tinker with her body… Marie Bell Breguet is not impressed that she has to clean up some sh*t again. Along with her bodyguard, Vainney Halter, they head to some core grid to fix it but the cocky military think they can handle it themselves. Naoto tinkers and messes precisely with this automaton’s complicated gears with only his hearing, causing her to awake from her slumber and save him before his place crumbles apart. RyuZU as she is known is grateful for the repairs. She learns that Naoto has this ability to hear precisely sounds and thus was able to locate the problem via hearing when all other clocksmith experts fail. Although she considers Naoto as her master, she has a very sharp tongue and sarcasm. Every guy’s fantasy? As part of the process to accept her as his master, he must suck her finger?! Who the f*ck came up with this sh*t?! Definitely some guy’s fantasy. Needing to find a place to stay, they end up in a love hotel. RyuZU shows she is not to be messed with when some punks try to hit on her but she beats them up when they threaten her master. Instead of renting a room, they prefer the lounge seat? RyuZU must be thinking if this is his perverse way of getting close to her. At least he got a lap pillow. Deep in the night, Marie wakes up after feeling some sort of faint tremor. The next day, Marie meets her committee and tells them that the irregular gravity would soon cause Kyoto Grid to collapse. However the military has chosen a different choice. They are going to force purge Kyoto Grid and sacrifice 20 million people.

Episode 2
Marie threatens the military guy for more details on the purge. So the military is trying to save face if they left without fixing it? Yeah, what better way than to kill everybody, right? The purge will take place in 20 hours. Can Marie fix it in time? Not if she can help it. She calls Limons Vacheron, an officer of Meister Guild to put her through to one of the engineer chiefs, Konrad. She tells him about the purge and anomaly that needs to be fixed. They’ll do whatever they can but they have to expect the military trying to sabotage them. So we see Marie and Halter plunging into the deep depths to fight robots and fix whatever damn thing that needs to be repaired before they get going to the next one. Meanwhile Naoto attends high school like normal. Even more shocking is how RyuZU becomes a transfer student in his class and shocks everyone by telling Naoto is her master. Some kind of sick play. Right? Marie is discussing with the clocksmith team about the 520 million parts they need to check! Man, they really need a miracle for this one just to save the city. She then gets a call to stop whatever she is doing. She is forced to comply and laments only if she had RyuZU (lost during transport to her), things would have been destroyed. With all the chaos in the background, Naoto takes RyuZU shopping like any other normal day. Marie sees Limons as he was the one who ordered the withdrawal. Looks like he is in cohorts with the military and 20 million is just a small sacrifice. Yeah, so small indeed. If Marie resumes work, her licence will be revoked. Marie gets made thinking it is Vacheron’s ploy to bring down the Breguet family. She whips out her gun, making that guy piss in his pants. Halter puts some sense in her. Nothing changes if she kills him. Marie beats herself up and blames herself for this incident. Halter reminds her the military would have done if she is in the picture or not. She is going to follow her heart and do what is right. Anybody who stands in her way, she’ll just beat the crap out of them. As they walk out, they cross path with Naoto and RyuZU walking in. She immediately recognizes RyuZU.

Episode 3
As they talk, Marie claims RyuZU is the Breguet’s property. She wants her back and of course he will be compensated. Since Naoto refuses, she threatens him. She didn’t see it coming when RyuZU’s blades are sticking at her neck. When she calms down, she continues explaining what is going on. However RyuZU rubbishes that she is that saviour they are hoping for. Her role is to serve Naoto. Naoto could tell an earthquake is coming and true enough it rocks the place. Marie learns of his precise hearing ability and wants him to help them fix a problem. Naoto is sceptical. Why isn’t she running away? Why so adamant to save the city? If she runs away, she will never have faith in herself again. Naoto still can’t help but when RyuZU mentions she has a sister, AnchoR in some tower’s basement that could help, Naoto agrees to come! He wants to meet her sister?! This guy got fetish for younger girls or is it he wants to tinker with her gears? So as they go down the tower, Naoto can hear robots waiting for them. He out-argues her by saying he wants to meet AnchoR and she wants to fix the tower. Everything else is irrelevant. He’s got a point. After battling the first wave, news spread that Marie is dead?! Limons panics and wants this under wraps since the murder of Marie will make their organizations collapse. Apparently Marie faked her own death so she could prove the connection between the military and the guild. It is also she can move freely without being restrained by politics. They meet more robot resistance along the way. This time RyuZU transforms into her ultimate, uhm, white wedding form to easily take them all out. This uses up a lot of energy so she goes into sleep mode. Of course nothing like a little tinkering from those masterful hands of the so called best clocksmith in the world would wake her up shortly. And then Naoto confesses he wants to marry her (after seeing all those awesome ‘naked’ gears) but she rejects! Marie is confused if RyuZU is programmed like that but she disagrees and loves Naoto out of her own free will. Then the duo stare at each other and Naoto has her nod to indicate how many times she likes him. I don’t think she is going to stop nodding… Marie blows her top seeing they wasted time with this stupid romcom drama. Yeah, 5 hours to go until the purge…

Episode 4
Marie is surprised to see Konrad and his team working. She hopes Naoto would get started but he can’t help feel at awe at all the gears. Obviously this makes RyuZU jealous. He has seen her body and now he is ‘cheating’ on her? Do we have time for this romcom silliness? So Naoto gets working as he uses his super hearing ability to detect the anomalies. Once he pinpoints the place, the rest goes to fix them. Of course we get to see Marie in action fixing the gears with her special tools and RyuZU using her fast precision that no humans could do. And then they did it! They actually can’t believe they fixed it! You’re telling me they expected to die?! But their celebration is cut short when the military has started the purge. Crap. Limons is bugging the military to hasten the purge or else he will lose face! Marie is cracking her head on what’s need to be done. The moment she realizes Imaginary Gear as their only hope, Naoto shouts a big no. Despite using some mechanism to generate and reverse the city from falling, it requires the sacrifice of RyuZU. A very risky move despite Marie assuring she can try to fix her later. Try. Naoto continues to protest but RyuZU believes in him and stabs herself! Now in Naoto’s palm is her mechanical heart. Don’t waste time by crying over her lifeless body. As Marie tries to fix whatever needs to be fixed (she has to get it done fast as the strain pushes the heart’s limits), Limons sends his robots to deal with them. This is where Halter comes in. Konrad joins him, probably bored with fixing things. The moment Marie is done, Naoto quickly rips the heart out. RyuZU is in some deep suspended dream. But when she reaches out to Naoto’s hand, she knows she is awakened again by him. Naoto is all tears hugging her. RyuZU believes her existence is because of the Gear of Fate.

Episode 5
An official funeral is held for Marie. Naoto laments after that risky mission, AnchoR wasn’t there. He blames Marie for bad luck. Don’t be surprised, there’s more in store for him. Because Marie wants his help to save the world. In exchange she’ll help him find AnchoR. Deal. Several intruders enter a tower but are finished off by this black hole ball from this loli automaton. No prizes for guessing who she is. Halter receives a mysterious transmission that seems to insult Marie about her poor sex life. This means we have to interrupt RyuZU’s flirting on Naoto to seek his help to trace that transmission. Naoto pinpoints the direction of the transmission and it seems he now has another motivation to go there. How do you like automaton in swimsuits? Yeah, Naoto is going crazy snapping photos of sexy RyuZU in a swimsuit. Another cliché moment of guy falling over girl. She wants to kiss but he chickens out. Falls into sea. Almost drowns. Saves him. Time for CPR. Interrupted by Marie because she doesn’t want to turn this show into some stupid romcom. No wonder her sex life sucks… Oh yeah, she’s a virgin… On to serious business at Mie Grid, Naoto couldn’t hear a sound here. Then it dawned to them that this place is dead. Even its core clock tower has stopped. Naoto believes this means AnchoR is here because where else to transmit illegal radio waves. Inside the tower, they see a big hole in the ground. Dropping down, they see disintegrated body parts and what shocks them most is a huge mecha. A weapon of mass destruction that used parts of this tower. Marie is hell bent on destroying it but AnchoR approaches them. She considers them a threat and attacks.

Episode 6
As they dodge her attacks, Naoto could hear AnchoR’s thoughts that she doesn’t want to do this and wants her sister to destroy her. The fight ends with Naoto and RyuZU falling into an endless abyss. They’re as good as dead. Halter takes Marie to retreat above ground. She now falls into depression blaming herself for being responsible over Naoto’s death. But that’s not going to stop her yet. So they turn into some vigilantes beating up the mayor of Mie Grid about that huge mecha underneath. They even threaten to kill his family! He finally reveals that Mie Grid is in cahoots with the military remnants of the purged Shiga Grid to hide it. 30 years ago there was a large scale defect. It would have affected the country so a purge was decided instead of waiting for repairs. However that was just a ruse as they were conducting an illegal electromagnetic research which is believed to affect the gears. One experiment went wrong and the government covered up their involvement by purging Shiga Grid and pretended it never happened. The abandoned military and scientists went underground and controlled Mie from the shadows. He never went public with this because Mie Grid would be threatened to be purged next. Thus that mecha was just insurance. It should never have worked. But it did. All because of Marie! After the Kyoto Grid fiasco, the people lost faith in the government and lost money. In need of funds and reason for their own existence, they are going to crush Mie Grid and restore their hero status. So Marie, how does it feel to reveal the government’s wrongdoings? Because she tried to be a hero, more people will die! More depression for her. More dilemma thinking if this world has value is worth saving. And suddenly Naoto and RyuZU pop up from the sewer. They’re looking fine and can still joke. Immediately Marie kicks him for not informing her he is still alive. So they explain when they fell, there was an abandoned facility beneath it. Some old geezer, Gennai Hirayama living there activated the elevator for them to get out. It is reported AnchoR is heading to Tokyo with that mecha. Since Marie is still unsure what to do, Naoto knocks some honest idiotic sense into her. So everybody is an idiot. She’ll save the world and do everything. For starters, they’ll go to Tokyo to attack.

Episode 7
Naoto becoming a terrorist and scaring the people by destroying Tokyo Tower? This is part of their plan to clear out the city so the military can clash with the mecha while they go save AnchoR. Naoto and co take on a few of the military robots, the same time the military themselves engage with the mecha underground. Naoto, RyuZU and Marie wait for AnchoR to come to them. Naoto knows it is so because AnchoR wants to be destroyed by her sister. Plus, based on their last fight, he knows AnchoR cannot kill humans because Naoto and Marie were not targeted. As the sisters fight, RyuZU lets AnchoR chase her till she suddenly switches with Marie. This sudden change has AnchoR malfunction. RyuZU cuts off the mask that is controlling her. Naoto manages to repair RyuZU but Marie needs to take AnchoR back to the safe house to fix her. When AnchoR wakes up, she starts calling the trio her father, mother and sister! Naoto would like to be the brother but being the father isn’t bad either. RyuZU suggests to AnchoR she needs to have a master. Would you like Naoto to be your master? That guy definitely say yes. So she initiates the master recognition process. What? No finger sucking? She is asking who she is?! WTF?! So, uhm, AnchoR is AnchoR? Correct?! However with Naoto now her master, she has lost her free will since weapons do not need one. So how? Naoto tells her to unlock whatever programme that is locking her free will! OMG! That easy?! So is the robot girl doing it via order or her own free will then? This is so confusing! Then he tells her to do anything she wants. But she still needs to ask his permission? Permission to cry, touch him and say sorry. Then she breaks down in tears in his arms. Wow. She is more human than robot.

Episode 8
Naoto is now fawning all over AnchoR. RyuZU is jealous so Naoto explains RyuZU is wife and AnchoR his daughter. AnchoR’s black ball spits out the head of a cyborg, Vermouth. Marie fixes it up to learn what happened. However Naoto hears the ground shaking. It’s that mecha (now termed as Yatsukahagi). It’s rising up from the ground. Didn’t the military take care of it? Well, the air force sure couldn’t now. Not any military missiles too. A sudden electromagnetic attack renders everything with a gear to a stop. Gennai and his rogue military are controlling Yatsukahagi. They are delighted nothing can stop them now. Though this isn’t what Gennai is aiming for. After he rescued Naoto and RyuZU, he told them how many scientists sacrificed their lives trying to understand this world and failed. Including himself. He felt like giving up since all it does is breed doubt and keep obstructing the path of humanity. Naoto told him he will never lose hope. Karasawa is trying to explain his theory to the authorities that Yatsukahagi was using electromagnetic technology, the reason it could disable all grids and outperform their weapons (meaning to say that the government is secretly and illegally conducting electromagnetic research) but they’re just accusing each other who to blame. Yeah, purge the entire grid! When Naoto comes to, he sees Marie dejected sitting in a corner. She says the world is destroyed since everything has stopped due to the powerful electromagnetic pulse that magnetized everything. Naoto is not going to be defeated. He is going to find a way out of here and a way to do demagnetization. I guess seeing how he never gives up and thinking about her times with Halter made her change her mind. It took a while but AnchoR starts moving after her backup programme is initiated. Cue for emotional ‘father and daughter’ reunion. Naoto knew the entire time his ‘family’ was still alive. Even RyuZU is currently ‘moving’ and is fine despite looking unconscious. Something about heat can demagnetize things. That is why RyuZU’s body is burning hot as she has no cooling system. Marie must be ashamed of herself for giving up. Despite everything Naoto did was out of instinct and without hesitation, she’ll allow him to drag her around for now.

Episode 9
Marie is supposed to meet up with Konrad. So his base is in a strip club?! Not safe for kids… This workshop also serves as a black market for automata. Marie wants to wake up Vermouth to learn more about the truth but needs a vessel. So they use one of the strippers’ automaton body to hook him up. He explains that when Yatsukahagi appeared, nothing needs to be done anymore as everything is already set in piece. Because right now the higher ups are arguing about using Tall Wand, a satellite in the space that when dropped can destroy an entire city. Some disagree so they start blaming each other for everything. At this rate, the government and military will destroy themselves. Not via terrorism but coup d’etat. Then there is something about Yatsukahagi being a hybrid of clockwork and electromagnetic technology and something is going to happen in 66.5 hours. Marie thinks it is some world war so where is Naoto going? Doing what he can. And by that he means going shopping with AnchoR?! Wait. Why is Naoto cross-dressed and loving it?! Marie is confused they can have fun despite the impending danger. AnchoR tries to be nice to ‘mom’ and buys her a gift but Marie lashes out at her. She wants her to destroy Yatsukahagi. AnchoR will do so as not to make her sad. When Naoto learns about it, he lashes out at Marie for trying to push her burden onto others so she can consider it done. He won’t allow it for AnchoR is his daughter! So what does Marie do? She goes back and tries to fix RyuZU?! Shouldn’t that be Naoto’s job? Well, he can’t seem to repair her now either because that time he fixed her, he heard a good sound. Naoto ponders about the Pillar of Heaven which is the centre of all grids in Japan. He plans to take over it. Because they have done so many ‘villainous’ things, might as well live up to that name. But they don’t have manpower. Naoto knows a place to get Halter a spare body while Vermouth can go scout for recruits. He wants to help Naoto because it is fun. After AnchoR promises to protect Marie, Marie cuts some slack. Why be so serious? They’re not defenders of justice or anything. She got too caught up and forgot what’s important. Time to go all out and have fun?

Episode 10
Vermouth is going all out destroying the mechas. Since it was his idea to hook up Halter’s brain to a heavily armed automaton, he has to do it by ploughing through waves of enemies to nab that Genbu body series that Marie wants. Then it is Marie’s turn to show her chops as she tries to fix every damn thing under 30 seconds. She isn’t human the way she works her hands with all those screwdrivers… Halter finally wakes up in his new body and destroys the remaining forces. Next, Naoto continues his villainous broadcast how he kicked ass easily wiping out those weak forces. Yeah, he is mocking those higher ups. After announcing his goal to sink Tokyo Grid and all that connects to it, Naoto has also seized the Pillar of Heaven and took Princess Houko Hoshinomiya who occupies it as hostage. She makes her statement for everyone to remain calm and evacuate the area. Konrad receives word from Karasawa and then tells Marie that there are plans to use Tall Wand on Yatsukahagi. They have less than 7 hours. This means they have to bring Yatsukahagi down before they have a chance to use it. Meanwhile Naoto is frolicking with his automaton harem. What is a genius has got to do at an idle time like this? Marie and Hoshinomiya know each other from overseas university. But Marie graduated earlier since she is a genius. Hoshinomiya believes the old Shiga army is behind Yatsukahagi. Marie tells of her plan to fry the entire Tokyo Grid to render electromagnetic effects ineffective. The only thing that can do that is Pillar of Heaven. Could you believe this is Naoto’s idea? No wonder he can play around with his harem because he gets things done when needed. Because we didn’t have quality Naoto x RyuZU time, well, here’s some before the storm hits. The usual blah, blah, blah as Naoto gives RyuZU a gold ring as ‘punishment’ because she has to wear it at all times.

Episode 11
Hoshinomiya talks to Naoto to learn why he is doing this. Because he says he wants to make them pay for making AnchoR do vile things, she replies he cannot be trusted and is a fair person. Her answer shocks RyuZU as she never expect her to think like that. With the military trying to mount an attack and rescue Hoshinomiya, Halter and Vermouth defend the place to also give time to Marie to fix the Pillar of Heaven. Gennai kills off all his men. After meeting Naoto, it reignited his hopes again as he is going to challenge the monster who pretends to be Y. Everyone is shocked when Yatsukahagi fires a devastating blast that heavily damages Pillar of Heaven. They didn’t expect it to recharge so fast but Gennai had redirected all its power there. Gennai introduces himself and challenges Naoto. Marie wants to fix the gears but Naoto can’t. He can’t hear those gear sounds anymore. Marie falls into depression that she relied and placed all her bets on the miracle known as Naoto. She even begs him to use RyuZU or AnchoR to destroy that weapon. Naoto would rather have the world destroyed! Isn’t that the same in both ways? AnchoR bugs ‘father’ for an order and since he won’t do it, she can’t abide by that and goes off herself. Naoto has RyuZU go tell AnchoR to wait for 70 minutes (Yatsukahagi is scheduled to fire again in 72 minutes). As Marie is still depressed Naoto scolds her about not using her talent he envies and giving up so easily. She beats him up and after taking out her frustrations, she gets back in her groove.

First, she knows that the research did by the clocksmiths for 1000 years were wrong. All of it. She believes Naoto knows the answer. There’s some example using orchestra music but I don’t get it. She is saying Naoto doesn’t need to know how to repair. He just needs to analyse and climb. Naoto also knows Marie can repair despite never seeing the blueprint (case from Halter’s repair). In other words, she can see the future she is supposed to reel in. This has Marie realizing they are opposites. While she arrives at the answer from the situation, Naoto constructs the situation from the answer. She wants him to tell everything he hears from the Pillar of Heaven. He might not be able to verbalize it properly so he lets her peek into his mind? One of those mindf*cks when he tells her to not memorize everything but don’t forget it. Do everything and nothing. Everything is right and wrong. Everything and nothing exists. Yeah, my head is going to explode. So I don’t know what Twilight Zone she entered but when she finally wakes up, she might not understand a thing but Naoto believes she remembers everything. Are you f*cking with me?! Then they hook up to some gears to fix the Pillar of Heaven. Yeah, it looks like some cheap video game to deconstruct and put together gears. Time is up as AnchoR jumps down to initiate her self-destruct sequence.

Episode 12
Why does Naoto and Marie repairing the Pillar of Heaven look like they’re doing some Dance Dance Revolution?! Gennai is counting his chickens as he claims victory and something about how does it feel like to feel despair of humans. With Marie quoting the same thing as Naoto said to him, the old geezer now believes Y exists in 2 forms. WTF… He notices the recharging rate dropping. AnchoR is going full steam to destroy all the generators. Each time it takes a great toll on her body and causes her great pain. Only 1,002 more to go. So much so she loses an arm along the way. Yeah, her body is breaking apart. Too bad she won’t go further as Gennai shoots her down. Luckily he won’t finish her because RyuZU arrives and cuts of his hand. An arm for an arm? Gennai thinks his death still means his victory as Yatsukahagi will soon recharge and shoot its final blast. However it couldn’t fire because as RyuZU explains, AnchoR’s destruction bought enough time for Naoto and Marie to finish fixing whatever. Naoto and his motley ‘terrorist’ crew then escape by jumping down. They leave it to Hoshinomiya to activate the updraft for their soft landing and to enhance their ‘villains’ reputation. After RyuZU takes AnchoR away, Yatsukahagi explodes taking Gennai with him as he still refuses to accept defeat. Well, he can now take it to his grave. But the more important question is can Naoto and Marie repair AnchoR? Thankfully Naoto hears her insides and is relieved her damage isn’t fatal. Of course we have to build some emotion with AnchoR regretting she wasn’t able to do what she was built for. Gee Marie, you look like you’re going to cry. AnchoR wants an order so Naoto orders her to be proud for what she did. For once instead of turning it into some Naoto x AnchoR loli romance, Marie bumps him away to emotionally hug and praise her. Why you make AnchoR cry now?! With Halter getting his human body back, they meet up with Karasawa who provides them a boat for them to escape the country. So now they’re floating in some ocean as Naoto and Marie argue who to properly fix AnchoR. Marie obsessed with AnchoR? She doesn’t want Naoto to turn her into a pervert. RyuZU ‘supports’ Marie since it would mean she gets Naoto all to herself. It gets worse with them wanting AnchoR to choose. Halter’s best quip: They’re the worst because that’s just bad parenting. Sorry to stop your family bickering but the government’s forces are hot on their tail. I guess Vermouth is itching to get into some action. How the heck can a small boat take on a few military class warship?! Beats me. They say they’re going to travel the entire world to overhaul all the gears. Yeah…

Gears Of War
Well… I think they can do it and fix this damn planet. Because when they have done everything and the impossible, what is there else to stop them? So when other countries see this little motley crew coming to shore, you better welcome this new age sci-fi Jesus Christ. Oh, you bet your gears that they can and are going to fix whatever wrong is with your sh*t. All the while fighting and defeating the forces of evil in the name of the government. Sorry if I got a bit lost in my own made-up fantasy since I was already confused by the time I finished watching this anime so I figure why not speculate something of this sort and cool down my ‘system’ before it overheats and I enter a mental breakdown of overthinking. Maybe I am already breaking down without knowing it…

Unfortunately I can’t seem to follow the plot easily. Based on my experience from watching sci-fi genres, I was already expecting this kind of personal disappointment. So when the story was all over the place about trying to rescue the city, trying to rescue a loli robot, trying to rescue the city again and possibly the entire country, I was just freaking confused. So basically everything inside this anime (the workings of the gears, etc) is so complicated that I suppose ‘antagonists’ have a better idea of destroying everything to make it look like an accident so they can save some face. Yeah, I would do that too if I was in their shoes. And they would have gotten away with it if not for those pesky meddling kids. Haha! Imagine a group of adults in high positions losing out to a bunch of genius kids and their robot personnel. Laughable. Better to accelerate the end of the world.

By the time the anime ends, you might start thinking who this Y dude who created this entire planet is and hence to some, this clockwork world is just one big gear of despair because nobody understands anything. Geez, and I thought being stupid is bliss. It’s like he created this world to prolong mankind’s suffering. This guy’s single named initial is so ambiguous that as though it is left for future bad puns like why oh why the heck did all this happen. And a parody of a certain popular children’s TV programme. Today’s world is brought to you by the letter Y. With Naoto and co going around to fix things, who needs to know about this dude? I feel like making a few clock and time related puns like how they are all racing in time to save the world trying to work against the clock and that they are taking actions because a stitch in time saves nine, but I guess it would be a waste of time. Oops…

As for the characters, they feel like a hit and miss. But leaning more towards the miss side. Many times, it is hard for me to understand them either. Yeah, that’s the downside of being a genius since ordinary dumb people like me cannot understand them. Naoto and RyuZU’s relationship are interesting to watch (sometimes funny, sometimes annoying) because they seem to be having fun in their own world while the rest of reality is on the verge of breaking down and turning into Apocalypse. RyuZU seems amusing with her sharp acid tongue and her yandere tendencies but it gets old after a while and not so prominent once AnchoR entered the ‘family’. Naoto despite the main character is shown to have his own flaws. I know I’m repeating myself by saying he is a genius and thus his crazy ways can’t be easily comprehended by normal people. Therefore despite his unorthodox ways of coming up with certain strategies and his unique ability of hearing the slightest sounds that no one else can hear, he looks like an idiot doofus who is just ‘fighting’ to protect his harem-cum-family. He is a ‘pervert’ because he prefers his girls in the form of mechanical automata instead of real flesh and blood. Sorry folks, no hook up with Marie. That’s why I figure they make her look less feminine with those boy shorts (loli + shota?) and a nerd with those tools.

The rest of the supporting casts don’t really do that much. It feels like Marie is a character that is needed to be the opposite of Naoto. She hastily wants to get things done because of this sense of responsibility thing but is forced to follow Naoto’s ways. She and Naoto have lots of contradicting ideals but in the end it is usually she who has to bend to his will since he has her robots and yeah, the main character. To show she isn’t totally a brat, that’s why I suppose Halter is playing the loyal subordinate who will always be by her side. But she is still as annoying as Naoto sometimes. Just saying. Ever since AnchoR becomes Naoto’s ‘daughter’, she is docile that she is hardly noticeable unless she is forced for some loli time with Naoto. At least she is the apple of Marie’s eye to share the love evenly. More chances for them to spat and hence increase Marie’s ‘relevance’. Oh man, looks like Marie has now become crazy after Naoto’s influence. Remember, the real Marie ‘died’ a long time ago.

And being tired of the usual military being the usual and typical villains, suddenly they pop this Gennai geezer to the fore with his twisted intentions of trying to best Y. Again. Since when did he represent all of mankind? Does being a scientist gave him that privilege? I mean, haven’t they learn? Those who failed to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it again in the future. Well, it seemed like he did learn his lesson (after a thousand years apparently). Until he met Naoto! Oh dear! Don’t you see?! Naoto is primarily responsible for his revival and hence this final piece of story for this season! Heck, Naoto didn’t even face him directly as a final boss and was killed off by his automaton. I guess he wasn’t worthy enough to be the last final boss for Naoto.

What makes Naoto and Marie totally unbelievable is their abilities and when they put them into action. I know I already said it a few times about them being genius but the way we see them go into action just feels unrealistic. It makes them not human! Look at the way Marie moves her hands and using multiple tools at the same time! With such speed! It’s like her fingers have hands themselves and doing all the fast work too. Is she a robot?! Is she God?! What about Naoto who can just hear every damn gear and pinpoint with 100% accuracy its faults. Heck, I can’t even figure out where that odd sound is coming from my computer and fear the use of using the ol’ whack-the-machine as seen on TV to fix it. But this kid can just hear those ‘beautiful’ sounds so precisely. Is he a robot?! Is he God?!

Even more unbelievable is how some of the robots are so human-like not only in term of appearance but in terms of personality too. I was fooled at first because initially I thought Halter was human or at least a cyborg. Turns out he is 100% robot too. They look, speak and act like a human but inside they are totally made up of metal parts and gears. As though you are peeking through some sort of alternate dimension if you open up their bodies. I know this is sci-fi and even though in reality our technology is getting closer to this very life-like artificial intelligence but it is still mind boggling and too much.

Action and fight scenes feel mediocre although it isn’t entirely that bad. Because it is futuristic sci-fi and has lots of disposable robots, it means that we need to shoe in some battles to show off the capabilities of our main characters. Hence sometimes the action feels mindless because there is a need for RyuZU to showcase from time to time how she can easily slice those mindless robots into half like a hot butter through knife and to make her look like a badass. Lots of firepower, lots of slashing, lots of explosions. Oh heck, this could be the mini Michael Bay’s Transformers series. Unless you are a fan of complicated choreographed fight scenes, such mindless battle scenes may still provide some simple satisfaction because who wouldn’t feel satisfied and be awed to see one heroine take down a hordes of enemies at a time?

Art and animation looks pretty decent. The cities being packed on gears when you look at them from a top-down perspective looks interesting but if you want to start thinking of how possible it is for it to keep standing for a thousand years like that, I think I’ll stop thinking. Character design I’ll say something about RyuZU’s design because the first time I see her, I thought she was taken after the designs of several anime characters like Rozen Maiden’s Suigin Tou, Chrno Crusade’s Rosette and those slicing scythe weapons that comes out from her thighs could be based from Busou Renkin’s Tokiko. I guess that is why she is better to look at compared to all the other bland designs of other robots belonging to the military. I know perhaps the robots are designed for their functionality and purpose but couldn’t they look a bit better than that?

It could be just me since I find that some of the characters’ face to be a little bit broad. Especially Naoto and Marie. Makes them look a bit weird… Maybe it’s their genius genes that has their brains stretched out a little. Haha! Just kidding. You can tell so when you compare them to ‘normal proportions’ characters like Halter and Hoshinomiya. Then AnchoR I thought her head is a bit bigger than her body. I think it is for that moe loli automaton effect but then again, it could be just me. Lastly, CGI is used sometimes to give off that sci-fi feel and although they aren’t that horrendous, it isn’t impressive either. Animated by Xebec who made lots of other popular series like the To Love-Ru series, Love Hina, Shuffle, Shaman King, Haiyore! Nyaruko-san and Mahou Sensei Negima.

Interestingly, the opening theme which is the same name as the title of this series is very much to my liking. I really like this song. If the heavy techno beat sounds somewhat familiar, it is because Fripside sings it and it has that similar sounds to similar techno beat songs they sung like the ones in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun. This is one of those techno songs that I could listen over and over again while blasting it loudly from my music box like I am in some underground disco. Really. The ending theme, Anticlockwise by After The Rain may not be as catchy as the opener but it isn’t that bad either. It’s quite a dramatic piece (did I hear some frenzy piano playing in the background) with lots of loud music and I think they use some sound effects for the singing voice. Oh, the CGI used in the ending credits animation feel cheap…

The voice acting is rather okay. I didn’t recognize any single one of them so I guess there is nothing for me to be happy about. The main casts are Yoshino Nanjou as Naoto (Kokoro in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes series), Ai Kakuma as RyuZU (Julis in Gakusen Toshi Asterisk), Saori Oonishi as Marie (Kazuha in Girlish Number), Sayaka Senbongi as AnchoR (Morina in Piace: Watashi No Italian), Kenichirou Matsuda as Halter (Batou in Ghost In The Shell: Arise), Maaya Uchida as Hoshinomiya (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Takayuki Sugou as Gennai (Zangetsu in Bleach) and Unshou Ishizuka as Konrad (Jet in Cowboy Bebop).

Overall, despite the interesting setting, everything else seems to fail to live up to expectations and fall short. Definitely not for those who want straightforward plots. Definitely not for those who would love their characters with more personality rather than being one dimensional. For those who want a bit of mindless action. And especially for those who love loli and robots. I doubt this series might get another season. I mean, since when have you heard of sci-fi series like this got a sequel? Looking at you Divine Gate… So while this series may not be a masterpiece, maybe sometimes what it takes to fix it (series that are following this format) is just a little whack to make everything right. But then you risk everything crumbling altogether like a domino effect and render it beyond repair. In this age of plenty, why repair? Throw it away and buy a new one! This means I would continue to watch similar sci-fi anime genres in the future…

Tsuki Ga Kirei

October 20, 2017

Normal boy meets girl. Normal middle school drama. Normal teen romance. Normal love between youngsters. If you like all that normalcy and can’t take anymore of today’s crazy love stories with bizarre twists, settings and plots, then Tsuki Ga Kirei is that right normal love story for you. Nothing very overly complicated. Nothing that is so overly confusing. Nothing so dramatic that it makes your heart stop. Nothing so emotional or tear jerking that you would finish a box of Kleenex in no time. Nothing that is so controversial and outrageous that would stir up unnecessary feelings throughout and after the end. So normal that it is abnormally normal. Or could it all be just one big yawn fest…

Episode 1
A new start of the school term. Kawagoe City Middle School starts its opening ceremony. Nothing really much. Akane Mizuno notes all her friends are in different classes. Kotarou Azumi visits the library. After school, both their families go out to eat at the same restaurant. Akane and Kotarou see each other and get embarrassed. They try not to make contact. But the awkwardness gets real when they are at the drink bar at the same time. Akane’s sister, Ayane finds out that the boy is her classmate. She tells this to her parents. Before you know it, both parents get acquainted with each other! Super awkward! When both families are done and are leaving, Akane hopes he won’t tell this to anybody. It’s embarrassing. But wearing the track and field club jersey is not for her? In school, the students are divided for their roles to help prepare for the sports festival. Kotarou skips out and visits a bookstore. He sees a book called Schoolgirl by Osamu Dazai, which is about a woman’s inner thoughts in first person. After he buys it, the bookkeeper gives him some record album as well as what it seems to be a swimsuit magazine (on the house) so he could read a variety of stuffs. Kotarou is now forced by the teacher to help out with the preparations. Akane sees this and remembers her friends were asking her to get group contacts for everyone. She sums up her courage to go talk to him (although it startles him at first). Since he doesn’t have his handphone now, she gives him her contacts. She helps him out to ease his workload. Later after Kotarou joins the group, Ayane teases her about talking to her boyfriend in which she strongly denies.

Episode 2
Kotarou has been up all night writing. That’s why he looks somewhat tired in the morning. His dad knows what he is doing because he too was once like that. He tells him to continue doing so since you can only be young once. As the sports festival begins, Akane is the fastest sprinter in one of the early races. It makes her looks cartoonish! Kotarou isn’t so thrilled to be in the 200 metre race. Takumi Hira looks as fast and cartoonish as Akane. What’s more embarrassing for Kotarou being zoomed past by others? He tripped and bruised himself. That’s got to hurt outside and inside. As he tries to see the teacher at the infirmary to get his wound treated, the teacher isn’t in but Chinatsu Nishio is. She knows a bit about him as Akane is her friend. Not sure why she’s feeling ticklish and laughing at lots of things. Heck, she gave him a sloppy treatment. If this was the real world, she would be sued for negligence. No disinfectant and just look at how horrible the way she bandages his bruise! Hira makes a pass at Akane so her friends think they should just date each other. While preparing for the scavenger hunt race, Akane accidentally drops her ‘pressure relief’ doll in one of the baskets. Because of that, her mind is elsewhere and there are a few ill-prepared bloopers like the scavenger hunt had not slips and Akane dropping the baton in the relay race, forcing her team to forfeit top spot to another in the overall points. Her friends have Hira talk to her but I don’t think it would do anything much. At the end of the day, it is Kotarou who returns it to her (he found it while putting things away). It made her so happy that she becomes talkative? As she mentions about her nervousness and how embarrassing it was today for her to mess things up, he tells her she is fine the way she is. Her happiness gives him motivation to continue writing. He starts showing his writing to the bookkeeper for feedback. Meanwhile, teacher Ryouko Sonoda is in a pinch. Her student, Roman Yamashina took her as his scavenger item. His slip said the person he loves. She couldn’t believe it. So that’s why she’s drinking? Even more so when she hears Roman say he actually likes her! Well, this teacher looks so young to be a fellow student…

Episode 3
Kotarou seems to have submitted his writings to a publication but I guess he didn’t make the cut… You can tell he is a bit dejected and furthermore at a time during the exams. Nothing like a little messaging with Akane to help lighten the mood, eh? Once the exams are over, the sports clubs are busy with their trainings for their meets. Kotarou heard Chinatsu talk to her friend that Akane should just date Hira and is sure she wouldn’t turn him down. Akane and Chinatsu are at the track meet. They have decent times. Chinatsu vows to train harder to match Akane. As Kotarou keeps in touch with Akane, he is itching to ask if there is any guy she likes but can’t bring himself to do it. Next day at the track meet, Hira goes up to Akane. He wants to tell her something but something else distracts them and eventually the mood. So while the meet is in full swing, Kotarou prays at the shrine before heading to some traditional drum practice. I guess they’re using tyres so as not to be noisy to others. They look like a weird zombie cult if you ask me… Kotarou can’t help look at his handphone for Akane’s reply. She never did. He even waited there until night fall. What if Akane never shows up? Of course she did as she has returned from her meet. She thought he might be here. So they talk. Sheepishly. And then it’s like they’re talking with puns of moon (tsuki) and love (suki) till it gets serious when Kotarou asks her to go out with him (tsukiatte).

Episode 4
Akane’s answer was “I don’t know”. Because of that, for their school trip, the 2 have this awkwardness between them. The teachers are spot checking their belongings and confiscating those that are prohibited. See how creative some came up to hide them. Like Roman hiding handphones in a snack wrapper. Even the oldest trick of tricking the teacher while pretending to sleep. After they are gone, it’s staying up late to chat. As usual, the girls talk about who they like. They pressure Akane for an answer so she hints there is someone she is interested. They get excited but assume that guy is Hira. Back at Kotarou’s side, its’ so funny to hear Roman and Daichi Ogasawara playing some mobile game together. The funny sounds they make when they’re winning or losing back and forth. It’s hilarious! 4 combo? 5 combo? 16 combo?! WTF?! I guess Kotarou was so engrossed with his messaging with Akane, his friends pull a fast one over him to steal his handphone. Luckily he manages to steal it back and runs out. Unfortunately it was quickly confiscated by the teacher. Not before making an appointment to meet up with Akane tomorrow. So as the next day arrives, Akane seems to be finding it hard to ditch her friends to go meet him. She tries to give excuses but they don’t see the picture. Man, she is running 2 hours late… When they finally wise up and ‘split up, Akane rushes there. Kotarou not around. I guess he didn’t wait. So she waits. After all, she texted him but he never replied. Actually they keep missing each other. Kotarou spots Chinatsu and asks to borrow her handphone. However she doesn’t know Akane’s number and can’t let Chinatsu find out so he gives it back to her. However Chinatsu can tell he wants to call Akane. She observes he was always looking at her. Chinatsu calls Akane and then hands it to Kotarou. Akane doesn’t sound impressed. So they change the place to meet and this time they really meet. You can tell she is mad despite he explained the teacher took his handphone. But why from Chinatsu’s handphone? Aha. Gotcha. I see where this is going… But when she says she wants to talk more with him, that’s supposed to be her reply to his confession? Man, I’m still a baby in trying to figure out a woman’s thoughts.

Episode 5
Kotarou and Akane are secretly dating. Chinatsu sees Kotarou being lectured by his teacher about his poor proficiency test scores. She is probably in the same boat so she asks him if he goes to any good cram schools. Akane must be finding it hard for love advice online. So she asks Ayane for advice. You have to live with the teasing that comes. Ayane promises not to tell their parents. Similarly, Kotarou is looking at online forums for dating tips. I don’t think it helps either. The duo message each other and he is quite happy when she agrees to come with him for the festivals. During lunch, they are supposed to eat with each other at the school’s library. However Akane can’t break free from her friends without suspicions. I guess Kotarou has to eat alone. Just when he thought it is her, it’s actually Chinatsu. And when Akane comes, she sees them together. What’s the meaning of this? Don’t worry. She was just asking about the cram school. After Chinatsu leaves, you can see that pout. So does Akane want to come to the same cram school? Baka! This effects Akane that she has no form in running. Hira picks it up and wonders if she would like to talk about it on her way home. Maybe that guy isn’t interested. Or he’s just hinting very vaguely. “We don’t have much longer to run together”. Although Kotarou and Chinatsu attend different cram schools, they walk the same path home. Some girls confront Akane to ascertain if she is dating Hira because they saw them together one day. No. Phew. What a relief. Kotarou has Akane meet up at the bookstore. So this is their first outing together? I guess when you have no money and don’t want to frequent a place where there is lots of people (who goes to a bookstore these days?), this is your only option. The bookkeeper was kind enough to allow them a few hours or so. As they chat, he says he would like to come to her meets to cheer on her. The timing is right for them to hold hands. But it is interrupted when Akane gets a message from Chinatsu. It says she has a crush on Kotarou! Oh no… Lastly, Akane’s parents are walking home when a noisy car passes by. Then it turns out to be Ayane’s boyfriend who is sending her home! This punk seems quite polite. Mom likes him but dad will not acknowledge him. Until he gives him some plushie doll?!

Episode 6
Kotarou gets a call from the publisher to meet up about the work he submitted. Akane’s parents want to come cheer for her for the next track meet but she doesn’t want them to. Ayane then hints she has a boyfriend. Traitor! While mom looks excited, dad looks worried. It’s that age where he is going to lose his daughters… Great timing or not, Akane gets a message from Kotarou to meet up. It seems he can’t come to cheer on her on that day because it is the same day he is going to meet the publisher. They hope each other for the best. Kotarou lies to his mom he is going to the library when he goes to town to the publisher. Once he meets the guy, he is being instantly told that he has no talent! Albeit in a nice way. Plus, he suggests Kotarou shouldn’t be doing serious literature for his age since it doesn’t make money and should go into light novel. Meanwhile at Akane, she tries to tell Chinatsu she is dating Kotarou. But Chinatsu knows since it was so obvious. Thanks for letting her know? When it is Akane’s turn to race, she can’t focus and her time ended worse than before. So why does Hira have to come lecture her about what’s wrong? Oh, now she’s crying. Too late to change your tone to positive. She’s not saying anything. When Kotarou comes home, mom confronts him and is furious. She heard from dad and doesn’t like he is dabbling in writing. Akane is also depressed since she failed to make the cut. The parents leave it to Ayane to talk to her. So Akane reveals the thing that bothered her: Her best friend confessed she likes the same guy. Instantly Ayane baulks. Too much drama? Her advice is to immediately cut ties with her best friend but she won’t since friends are important to her. Kotarou and Akane later meet and learn how both failed to make the cut. But they won’t give up and will continue doing what they love. Later Akane meets up with Chinatsu to clear things up. Wow. Such nice happy ending because they understand and continue remaining as friends. Just one thing: Chinatsu seeks her permission to confess to Kotarou so she can have proper closure. Looks like they’re not out of the woods yet.

Episode 6.5
WTF?! Why do they need a recap and summary so far?! I see they couldn’t meet that week’s episode deadline. So we have to relive recycled clips of the important moments between Kotarou and Akane again? I know repeating love is important but progression is also more important… Just kidding. Just made that up…

Episode 7
Kotarou and Akane join their big group of friends to the amusement park. The more the merrier? Because of their odd number, Roman always volunteers to take the odd seat to fill up the rides and is often on his own. During the roller coaster, Chinatsu wants to sit next to Kotarou. She even has him try to call her by her first name. Akane doesn’t look impressed. When Kotarou gets a call from Roman as he is in the infirmary for mild heatstroke, Roman can tell he is dating Akane. So obvious. He wants to support them when he reads the group message that Akane is spotted together with Hira. Kotarou returns to the group with everyone supporting Akane and Hira to be a couple. He goes off to find them. He summons his courage to tell Hira that they are dating. Akane agrees. Hira is left in shock. Chinatsu is also there in shock. But with added tears effect. When Hira returns to the group and asks if Akane is in a relationship, everyone is aghast. Really?! For real?! Are you sure?! Because Roman knows, they bug him for answers. Kotarou and Akane do lots of stuff together and are pretty looking like a real couple. When Chinatsu returns to the group, the girls can tell she has been crying and that love triangle. They try to console her. During the fireworks, the mood is great for Kotarou and Akane to kiss. Only to be interrupted by a cheeky little girl pointing out the obvious. Well, they were going to kiss in public! Chinatsu apologizes to Hira for inviting him here. However he isn’t bothered by it. On the train home, Akane receives a ‘teary’ message from Chinatsu that she couldn’t confess. Why you have to go make her feel bad?!

Episode 8
Now the rumour of Kotarou and Akane spreads throughout school. They’re going to be so ‘famous’. Akane’s friends pull her aside to find out more. It’s funny they ask what she likes about him and yet nothing. They promise no more secrets between each other. This means she has to tell them when they first kiss! Though, they can’t envision Kotarou as a guy who would do that. After Akane finishes her practice and meets up with Kotarou at the library, she invites him to come watch his practice his dance for the festival. Now here is another place who knows he has a girlfriend. Akane dresses in her lovely yukata to join Kotarou for the festival. She learns his birthday is already way past. She would want to buy something for his birthday but Kotarou hardly celebrates his birthday with his friends as it usually falls during summer break. Akane’s feet has a little sore from the sandal straps so Kotarou helps put band aid over it. Then she gives him a ‘pressure relief’ doll which is identical to hers as his belated birthday present. I think he might get addicted in pressing it. This time the mood is right and there are no interruptions so the duo share a kiss. Both wrote the same wish at the festival: To be together forever.

Episode 9
Kotarou is still thinking which high school to go to. It is the same for Akane. But Akane’s dad drops news that he might soon be transferring to another place for his work, probably to Chiba. Akane is worried but no cause to press the panic button yet. Kotarou’s mom continues to bug him to stay focus and choose his high school. You can see on Kotarou’s face that he is just not interested and like a blatant protest when he doesn’t answer or just ignore her. Later Kotarou and Akane text each other. Since it will be Akane’s last track meet, he wants to come watch her. She is taken aback and doesn’t want him to come since it will be embarrassing. Little does she know, he secretly came to watch her. When it is her turn, the moment the gun is fired, she runs the fastest and leaves the rest trailing in her dust! OMG! Just reminds me how Usain Bolt did it to his opponents! In fact, not only she reaches the finish line first, she broke her personal best time. Kotarou leaves satisfied and Chinatsu spots him. Now seeing him is like automatic heartbreak, huh? During the break, Akane and Chinatsu start crying that things are soon going to be over. Hira tries not to interrupt while he gets his stuffs but Akane spots him. Awkward. Then he couldn’t help smile since her nose is as red as some reindeer. Later when Hira talks to Akane, he learns that she might be moving away. Thus he invites her and her friends to go to the festival together since it will be their last time doing club activities together. Chinatsu wonders if Hira has not given up yet. He replies he hasn’t even begun. She doesn’t blame him. You can’t change how you feel. Kotarou gets a little encouragement when father talks to him about the school he is supposed to choose. It doesn’t need to be good. As long as he can do whatever he loves. Take it easy. Later Kotarou messages Akane and to her surprise when he says he was there watching her. Now it’s her turn to surprise you. She’s moving to Chiba. This one’s more devastating?

Episode 10
Kotarou was so surprised that he immediately calls her to confirm. Your ears aren’t deceiving you. Akane will be applying for a well known high school in Chiba, Koumei and she can get in via recommendation based on her grades. Kotarou thinks of applying there too via general admission. He is happy to hear she wants to go to the same cram school as him. During the festival, Akane and her friends watch Kotarou do his dance. Although he is in a mask and costume from head to toe and on a float, they could still recognize him. During his break, he wants to meet up with Akane but since she is with her club friends, she wants to it to be a little later. Hira and Akane got ‘punishment’ to throw away the trash. He takes this opportunity to confess he likes her. Want to bet Kotarou is there watching? Of course Akane rejects him since she is already in a relationship. What Hira wants to know is why Kotarou. He knows her better than anyone else. She just considers him as her important friend. He understands and just wanted her to let her know how he felt. When Akane meets up with Kotarou, that guy is obviously acting different. She knows he is mad despite he denies. She thinks it is about her moving away but he hints about a certain guy. It was just really odd for them spending time together like that with that kind of tension before Kotarou returns to continue his shift. Poor Akane, she cried alone on her way home. Later back home, Kotarou must have realized too late how much of a dick he was and regrets it. But even in school they aren’t talking to each other. When Akane spots an application for Koumei, she immediately goes to confront Kotarou. He admits he applied for it. He hasn’t told his parents yet and is sure they will be against it but will try to convince them. He wanted to tell her after he talked to his parents. Akane feels happy as she falls and cries in his arms. They apologize to each other for before. Kotarou didn’t see this coming as Akane kisses him on his lips.

Episode 11
When Kotarou and his mom are talking to his teacher for his high school recommendation, he shocks them by saying he is going to Koumei. Of course back home he gets an earful from mom. How can he claim he thought hard about it when he said he just decided to go there? She believes it is because of a girl since she heard the teacher mentioning a classmate is applying there. The most shocking moment in this series when Kotarou tells his nagging mom to shut up! OMFG!!! So he goes to his room and just lies there… He tells Akane he got into a fight with his parents. She on the other hand is knitting him a scarf. Ayane tries to be practical about their long distance relationship and that they might break up but Akane remains positive they won’t. Rumours of Kotarou applying for Koumei spread all over school again. Akane’s friends tease her they should just get married right now. Kotarou continues to be a study zombie. He goes home every day and study. So much so it is making mom feel bad. He has a little reprieve when Akane asks him out on Christmas. She gives him her hand knitted scarf. It made his day. But I guess the best part is at the end of it when they kiss. Then it’s back to the daily grind. One night, Kotarou’s dad talks to him. He can apply for Koumei but if he fails, he will have to apply for a nearby municipal school. He then tells him how mom went to talk to his teacher again. With his grades, getting into Koumei is impossible but mom fought back and wanted her son to be given a chance since he is trying so hard. I guess it makes him awkward. He goes to talk to mom but sees her making onigiri for him. Only can be filled with mom’s love. Yeah, tastes so good with a mother’s love. The day to take the entrance exam is here as Kotarou leaves early and his parents giving him their blessing. He takes his first step to fulfil his destiny.

Episode 12
The results are in. He is NOT accepted. Well, that was fast. Destiny failed. No laughing matter… Not sure why Ayane seems to bug her sister to give up on him. I hope she isn’t just testing her. Kotarou applies for a municipal school and gets in. Chinatsu is also here and got in. On the way back, she finally confesses to him. As Akane’s friend she didn’t want to hurt her. After she hugs him, she leaves. Chinatsu then messages Akane about her confession. She hopes they can still be friends. After graduation, Kotarou and Akane hang out. All is going well when suddenly Akane’s mood changes. She becomes gloomy. What gives? She tells him about Chinatsu’s confession. Oh. He admits. But the problem that is bugging her is why he did not tell her. Oh sh*t. She was so worried. She starts crying. But then apologizes for causing him trouble, then kisses him, then runs away. Man, this is very confusing! After that she cries so hard like as though she got dumped! No wonder Kotarou is so blank back at his room. The day Akane’s family moves out is here. She leaves her ‘pressure relief’ doll behind. Akane has a teary goodbye with her friends but dad gives her permission to catch the later train. Chinatsu then shows a story that Kotarou posted online. It is a real love story between them. She reads some of the lines at the end and is overcome with emotion. You know, the lines that say how much he loves her and his feelings will never change no matter how far they are apart. Kotarou’s story is popular enough that there are many comments posted. He reads one of them from Akane as she asks what happens next. Not sure if this reminded him or gave him motivation to move his ass to go see off Akane. Too late. Chinatsu already said she is boarding the train. So he starts rushing there? Since when did he become a sprinter?! Actually it is some point where the train passes him. When it does, he screams out how much loves her. Well, let’s hope that is the correct train. In the ending montage, we see them maintaining their long distance relationship until they finally get married and have a beautiful child.

Love, So Beautiful
And there you have it. One of the world’s most normal love stories and the happiest and normal ending too. At first I thought they were going to leave us ‘hanging’ with the finale showing how our main lovers will not be together (at least the distance will be the greatest obstacle in having them spend more time together) but they fast forward and do some time skip to prevent us from speculating our own twisted stories that they may have broken up or be dead (yikes!) and hence coming up with the ultimate ending of them finally becoming a happy family. It might look so normal but if you are living in today’s era, this is like a fairytale dream come true! The best possible ending that all of us would have wanted. It might be boring but hey, they are happy. That is what counts. Making how this whole thing sound like a ‘fairytale’ is that both of them are their first loves. If they grow old and are still together, it would have been a commendable feat and an achievement that not many can achieve in today’s world. So congratulations to Kotarou and Akane. You made it in life! Why do I have to make it sound like a game?

There is nothing much happening as you can see in the overall plot. It is just your basic average love romance drama in young teens. The obstacles they face as seen here aren’t very overall dramatic or that would make your heart sink so low that it would drop out of your body. That’s why I considered Kotarou talking back to his mom to be the most shocking moment ever in this series. Yup, not the love triangle or when Akane had to move. Those help add some drama and effect but they are quickly done over with and without much fanfare. With Chinatsu and Hira holding unrequited love in their hearts, you’d think they won’t give up on them easily but being the very normal anime this has to be, hence nobody holds a grudge and the love triangle ended before it could even start! So if you’re looking for some delicious scandalous drama, you’re not going to find any here. Therefore even if the pacing of this series is reasonable, to some it may be a drag and just boringly normal. It doesn’t hover over a scene too long and moves over.

Despite many side characters in this series especially Kotarou and Akane’s friends and classmates, a big bulk is focused on them. More about them later. But for Kotarou and Akane, their relationship may not be perfect but in today’s standards, it is considered a miracle and a fairytale. They are just very normal kids who happen to be in love with each other. They hesitate and aren’t sure simply because this is their first time in love. So it is given there has to be some anxiety and some worries. But other than that, it is a love relationship perfect and beautiful enough that the paparazzi would fall asleep and go somewhere else.

Apart from their practically normal relationship, so normal that even when it spreads throughout school, it’s like nobody gives a damn (probably they are not hot shots or popular enough to have fan clubs of their own in the eyes of others). So I somewhat observed a bit some of their quirks. Like how when they often message each other, they tend to use very big and elaborate emoji in their text. Not your standard yellow face emoji or those typical and simple ones. But really cute and elaborate ones. Sometimes when Kotarou gets happy, I kept wondering why he likes to do shadow boxing with his light string in the middle of his room. Then I saw that Ali picture on his wall (the only picture he’s got in his room?). He never mentioned anything about his aspirations to be a boxer but I am digressing that if he wasn’t going to be a writer, novelist or anything to do with literature, he’s be a boxer. I know. Unimaginable, right? From time to time, he loves to quote from Dazai on love. I guess that’s part of his source of motivation. And then there’s Akane who keeps pressing that doll each time she is nervous (a habit Kotarou picks up after she introduced him to it). I can’t help but snicker each time looking at her do so because it’s like as though she is doing some voodoo thingy on that doll by pressing it with her fingers. Also, reminds me of that video game logic whereby if you’re losing and you can somewhat hit harder in-game when you press your buttons harder. Funny…

I always find it strange that Chinatsu has this very sunshiny and happy personality. Sometimes it feels unreal because behind that laughter feels like as though she is hiding something. While it is not explicitly mentioned, I think the way she bursts into such laughter is to hide her crush on Kotarou. Well, we know how things turned out. So is it better for her to be in fake smiles (assuming it is) or be true to her feelings and show her depression? I also thought Hira was a bit strange. From the looks of it, his body language gives mixed signals he might or might not be interested in Akane. You see him wanting to be there for her but then he goes off. It’s like he isn’t interested in her or doesn’t know how to approach or deal with the finer parts of soothing a girl’s heart. But to think about it if it was the latter, if I was in his shoes I would probably act and do the same.

Now let’s talk about the other side supporting characters especially their friends. Many of them are not given a lot of prominence in the main story and sometimes it makes them feel like nameless unimportant extras just to show that our main duo have got some friends. Hence at the end in some episodes, we have a few short skits that shows their funny side. It is really interesting and the funniest bits of the series. For example, there is this Sakura girl who thinks she is hell of a beautiful and charming whereas in real life she is just a plain normal loner girl in glasses and braids. She has one heck of an imagination that’s for sure. She’s the kind of girl who thinks everybody wants a piece of her or how she is such a good and heroic person when in reality nobody gives a damn about her and it’s all in her mind. Can you believe that this girl is actually in the same literature club as Kotarou and he didn’t even know she exists until they take a club photo?!

Aside Kotarou and Akane being in a relationship, it seems that a couple of Akane’s friends are already ‘established’ in this dating game with them having their own boyfriends. It is very amusing to see how they interact with each other here. Like Setsuko and Nagahara, the latter always talk and act big like with an air of confidence but at the end of the day he is just broke and Setsuko always have to end up covering for him. No wonder they broke up. For Miu and Inaba, Miu looks like the very sweet girl but can be also very demanding. You must have lots of patience with her as Inaba learns the hard way. When he presses the right buttons, she is all cute and happy. Just the slightest mistake, she’ll click her tongue. Yeah, it makes her look like a selfish b*tch sometimes. Never judge a book by its cover because that is what Ayane’s boyfriend is. But I suppose I can understand why all fathers worry to have their daughters date this kind of guy. Not to worry. At least from this point of view he looks very much like a good guy. Not a couple, but it feels weird for having a few skits on Roman and Ryouko since the latter feels like she is being dragged into his pace.

Sometimes Kotarou and Akane’s friends have the best one liner quips especially when teasing about their relationship. Like for example when Kotarou was adamant to take the test into Koumei, there is a high chance it may not be possible for him to get in based on his grades. So how does Roman respond to that? He’ll make it up with the power of love! Oh, Roman. If only real life was this easy. Roman and Daichi feel like your typical average friends to always tease normal Kotarou. Because like Daichi who is a big chubby guy, he loves to wrestle and lock Kotarou in his arms as part of his teasing. The unsung heroes of the series goes to Kotarou and Akane’s parents for their unwavering support of their child. Like Kotarou’s father who looks easy going but he gives the freedom to his son to do what he wants at his own pace. Don’t force him. Every guy would like to have him as his father. His mom might sound like a nag but she is just like every other mother who is worried about her child’s future. In the end, all they want is the best in them and continue to support them through thick and thin.

In fact, there is an entire special episode dedicated into showing these short skits on these minor characters. Like as though they can’t fit everything into the season so they just compiled the rest into a 15 minute special to be sold with the BDs. Sure, getting us to part with our cash but that’s not the point. Some of the skits include boys and girls can have an entire conversation of one word only and unless you’re part of the group, you won’t understand its context; When Inaba is being popular and chatty among girls, Miu surprisingly takes him away to walk home together. That never happened before. Because she doesn’t want him to be taken away by other girls rather than being truly in love with him; Sakura tries her hands at tarot cards. All bad readings… Better give up; Daichi notices different people cheering differently for other clubs and notes how unpopular his judo club is; Whenever fellow teacher Hidaka talks to Ryouko, she always blushes and goes away (because they’re inadvertently topics relating to marriage and being single). This has him to start deluding that she likes him; Even Sakura starts deluding Hidaka likes her after mishearing his words but eventually dismisses he is her type; Several boys hit on Miu so she agrees to go karaoke with them. Eventually she rips them off by having her treat lots of food and when it’s time to go, she leaves them with her fake social media contacts. Brutal…;

Nagahara sends a cringe video of him rapping his Christmas love to Setsuko. Because they got into an argument later, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned so she forwards that video to everyone! Guess who is the laughing stock now?; Akane’s dad still can’t accept Ayane’s boyfriend. But despite his exterior, he is a good guy and even has plans for their future! You can’t hate this guy!; Kotarou’s mom seems to be taken in with the Korean wave. Though dad dismisses it, late at night he tries to imitate it himself. The same thing when his wife starts fawning over kung fu guys and cute mascots. Yeah, Kotarou must feel weird out to see that like that; After lots of bugging, Setsuko finally gives Nagahara a leftover chocolate from her friend. Nevertheless he is very happy. But this has bigger implications because since he has no money, this feel good thingy has Setsuko forgiving him and will cover it for him; Inaba doesn’t get any chocolates from Miu as she doesn’t see him as a friend. Or a boyfriend. Sad…; Sakura is deluding again about how all the boys in her class will be fighting to give her chocolates. Probably they haven’t given her any yet is because they’re waiting quietly… Keep waiting.

One of the striking things of this series is the visuals. It strikes you as very simple and plain at first. For a normal anime, this kind of art feels fitting as you don’t need all the complicated details. Therefore the art style may sometimes look like simple sketches. This art style kinda reminds me of another anime series that looks similar to this: Hourou Musuko. One of my 2 complaints about the art style for this series is rather the shading or the toning hue of the characters’ side face. There is this one huge strip of whiteness on the side as though their faces didn’t get complete in the colouring. Or they may have put too much face powder and forgot to rub it off. It is very obvious and it feels weird once you noticed it. You can’t take your eyes off it. I know this is part of the simple art style of the series but this is too obvious that I can’t help feel weird overall about it.

The other complaint is the use of CGI. I don’t know if it is today’s trend that CGI must be employed no matter how miniscule it is into every anime. I don’t see a reason why this anime needs to use CGI even if it is for variety. Although not used very often, CGI can mostly be seen when there is a crowd of people. Usually this scene lasts 1 or 2 seconds long. But the animation is glaring. It feels so stiff like as though the characters are those NPCs you see in video games. Totally weird and unnecessary. This anime is animated by Feel who produced Locodol, Dagashi Kashi, Jinsei, Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigattieru series and the Da Capo series.

Something about the voice acting that makes it feel realistic that they sound like real middle school kids than grownups trying to act like them. I don’t know why I kept thinking that the voice behind Akane or even Ayane was Aoi Yuuki. At points they sounded close but definitely there was something off. Akane is voiced by Konomi Kohara (Akane in Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi No Kyoushitsu E) and Ayane by Ryouko Maekawa (Yumine in Mahou No Stella). The rest of the other casts are Shouya Chiba as Kotarou (Kenji Gion in All Out), Rie Murakawa as Chinatsu (Ageha in Kyoukai No Rinne), Atsushi Tamaru as Hira (Shouichi in Seiren). Eishin Fudemura as Roman (Hitoshi in Nanbaka), Makoto Kaneko as Daichi and Nao Touyama as Ryouko (Chitoge in Nisekoi).

Despite having a very minor and cameo role in this anime, Nao Touyama sings the big bulk of the songs in this series. Not only the opening and ending themes but the various insert songs peppered throughout the series as well. Like the ending theme (named exactly after the name of this series) and a lot of the insert songs are slow and lovely ballads. They fit into the romantic atmosphere very well. Even if this is just a normal romance show, the insert songs actually help give off a very powerful emotion in many important scenes of Kotarou and Akane together. So if their dialogue wasn’t enough to help make you feel connected, the insert songs will. The opening theme, Imakoko is hence by far the liveliest of them all. It’s not too shabby at all this anime pop.

Overall, this is a beautiful romance series with great character development and pacing but the normality of many things may put off some looking for something edgier and controversial (Kuzu No Honkai anyone?). However its normality is what made this series a novelty in its own right. Yes, so normal that it actually stands out on its own apart from your other typical fanservice, slapstick comedy and bloody gore animes for the season. Yes, this anime somewhat ‘detoxifies’ all the ‘corruption’ from other series I have watched. It stands as one of those ‘healing’ animes in my books like Aria The Animation, Tamayura and Non Non Biyori. Only difference is that we have the beauty of ‘normal’ romance and falling in love. So give love a chance (like how you should for this series) and everything becomes beautiful. Because, the power of love. It makes up for everything. Normally. Normal is the new beautiful.


October 15, 2017

If you can’t get enough about series that has its characters breaking out of prisons but find the one about a high school that imprisons boys to be too pandering to feminism and too much hot fanservice spamming in your face, then perhaps breaking out of a real high security prison would seem more reasonable. Sort of. Nanbaka isn’t just about prisoners breaking out of their cell. Oh no. That would be just boring to see every episode about them trying their devious and cunning ways to beat the system to get out. Because it will be like the Coyote and Road Runner show. The same never ending stuffs. So we’ve got lots of action, lots of comedy, lots of drama learning more about the prisoners and wardens past and character and a whole lot of conspiracy to go about. Wow. Prison is more than just locking up somebody and leaving them to rot and die.

Episode 1
Nanba Prison is supposedly the most secretive and high-tech prison in the world that nobody has ever escaped before. Oops! Said too soon because inmates from Cell 13 of Building 13 have escaped. They are No. 25 AKA Nico, No.69 AKA Rock, No. 11 AKA Uno and No. 15 AKA Juugo. They run through all the traps and security layout like ease. As if this is just an easy game show for them. Building 13’s guards, Hajime Sugoroku and Seitarou Tanabata are monitoring their movements. They thought Yamato Godai could help catch them since he is on scene but this training maniac easily got lost. Bad sense of direction? When you want things done, you have got to do it yourself. So when the quartet finally reach the end gate to freedom, they are stopped by the only man who can stop them: Hajime. He easily beats them up and sends them back to their cell. So close, yet so far. Even in their cells, the inmates are happily living there. Wow. Like it is the best place to live ever? I mean, they are guaranteed 3 meals a day and follow a healthy routine. They can even read manga, watch TV and do some so why would they want to ever leave? Well, as Juugo puts it, even if he escapes (which he does as a past time in other prisons), he has no home to go. When they hear a woman is going to visit this building, they get excited to go see her. So they break out to see this beautiful blonde lolita chick. Woah. Hajime, we didn’t know you have such a cute sister. Guys, meet Hitoshi. His cross-dressing brother! OMFG! Not so keen now, are they? Hajime is then summoned by the warden of Nanba Prison: Momoko Hyakushiki. She is sceptical about no troubles surfacing from Cell 13 since Juugo, the son of a very troublesome prisoner is housed there. They named No. 610 as the Eternal Fugitive. Juugo continues talking to Hitoshi that he can escape from any lock except the ones on his neck, hands and feet. He doesn’t know how it got there nor how to remove them. Nobody could. But he thinks that this guy with a scary scar on his back neck might be the one. Therefore he has been going from prison to prison to find this dude. Now, there is nowhere left for them to run. This is the last stop, the end of the line. He will find him.

Episode 2
Hyakushiki again summons Hajime to confirm if there are no troubles from Cell 13. No ma’am. In actual fact, Hyakushiki is in love with Hajime! On the outside, she looks like a serious tough nut but on the inside she is swooning like a teenage girl on how cool Hajime is! And Hajime is like really scared of her despite putting up his cool façade. He almost got into trouble again when he gets back to his room because Juugo just escaped! Yeah, he was sleeping in his room. We see Rock enjoying the cafeteria’s food since the big shy chef, Shiro loves making food for him. There is no escape puzzle that Juugo cannot solve and today is Cell 13 inmates to assemble furniture. Too bad their creativity isn’t appreciated here. Now we see Hajime go through all the silly security layers just to enter Hyakushiki’s room. Outside her room are other guards from other buildings waiting for their turn. Yup, a big bunch of weirdoes. When it is Hajime’s turn, he is supposed to bring the files of Cell 13 inmates. What Hyakushiki is interested is why they are not breaking out considering their habit from jailbreak in other prisons. Hajime says it is hard to put it on paper. He explains for example, Nico the American was arrested for being a drug mule. Although he had a light sentence, it seems he didn’t like the injections and needles to treat his uncanny ability of being immune to poison. Because of Nanba Prison’s oral medication, he likes its flavours and thus no motivation to escape. Fellow American Rock was arrested for starting gang riots. He escaped from prisons due to bad food. Now he loves it here because of Nanba Prison’s good food! British Uno is a compulsive gambler. But his escapes are due to because he has dates with women! Because he now has no dates, thus his lack of motivation. Finally Japanese Juugo escapes prison as a hobby. Speaking of which, he almost escaped again. Is he trying to break the record for most escapes in a day?! The quartet discuss if they really should stay here because Nanba Prison is like their home. It’s nice and comfortable.

Episode 3
Seitarou complains to Hajime that Cell 13 inmates are bullying him for being weak. He thinks of quitting but Hajime chides his low resolve. If he can work here, he can work anywhere else. So Hajime suggests this method to handle them. Just give Uno surveys from women’s magazine, manga to Nico and a food menu to Rock to keep them occupied. With them preoccupied, this will make Juugo less motivated to escape since his inmates aren’t. Thanks to that, Seitarou now becomes their errand boy. At least he is motivated. A new inmate is to be placed in Cell 13. He is a ninja, No. 99 AKA Tsukumo. The non-Japanese guys are so happy to see a Japanese ninja. Apparently he got arrested for trespassing. Because Tsukumo is a bit like a show off, he challenges Juugo to see who can escape this prison first. But it seems Tsukumo is just following Juugo around. The rest too because they are the audience and judge? So when they finally bump into Hajime who expected this antic, Tsukumo tries to use his ninja moves but blunders idiotically. Since he is no threat, he will be transferred to another cell block. Later the inmates have to clean their cells as this customary for the New Year. The guards like Hajime are to clean the warden’s building. Hajime could feel Hyakushiki’s piercing eyes watching his every move. But we all know she is just admiring him. Yeah, look at his skin, his sweat. What a man! Once done, Hyakushiki has made up her mind on the cell representatives for each building for the New Year’s Tournament. Building 13 will of course be Cell 13. Because Hajime did mentions if they get chosen, it will be more work for him to clean up their mess. The more chances she gets to see Hajime, the better, right?

Episode 4
The annual tournament hosted by Mitsuru Hitokoe will have building guards and inmates team up and the winner will get prizes. The guards will get bonuses and prisoners one wish. So we see a few of the potential rivals like Building 5’s Samon Gokuu and his Cell 8, Building 3’s Kiji Mitsuba and his Cell 6 as well as Building 4’s Kenshirou Yozakura and his Cell 10. The first event has them write calligraphy. Yeah, everyone is pining for Juugo since he is Japanese. He sucks! Luckily Hajime and Yamato can write better. They win because Hyakushiki abuses her power to give them high marks. The next is pounding mochi on a daruma. Yamato teams up with Rock to fight Building 5’s Inori Hakkai and No. 2 AKA Liang. The latter is Rock’s ex-cellmate before he was transferred to another block. Seems Liang has some sort of grudge on him and wants to beat him up. Therefore he has trained hard to be the strongest and wants a training ground. However Rock fights back and defeats him. All he wants is a stone oven as fighting doesn’t fill his stomach. Yamato also beats up Inori after being motivated by Rock’s win. Next up is karuta. A guard can pair up with up to 2 inmates. Hajime selects Seitarou and Cell 13 inmates mock him that they never knew he could do anything! Juugo fears he will be picked since he is Japanese but surprisingly Uno volunteers. Well, it’s a card game, right? Seitarou faces off with Kiji who also looks down on him. But Seitarou’s hand is faster than the eye! It’s gone before you can even move! A complete sweep for Seitarou. The problem is now Uno as he is up against the queer guys of Cell 8, No. 3 AKA Trois and No. 8 AKA Honey. Uno is also getting his ass handed to him. Uno notices the card disappears into their hand before he could reach them. They believe they’ll win before he discovers their strategy and cheats.

Episode 5
Uno is more than capable of cheating. In a short while, Uno turns the tables and gets all the cards before his opponents could move. Uno has this great observation ability and he has deduced their bad habits. Therefore as long as he can see their traits, he can figure out their next move. Uno wins the game as he tells wish is to get a game room. Next match is top spinning. Building 13 will face off with Building 5. Samon sends No. 71 AKA Qi and No. 58 AKA Upa to fight. Nico is eager to enter this match and drags Hajime in since he earlier saw Upa floating in a cell. But Qi leaves Upa to fight since he doesn’t feel like it. Samon targets Hajime instead of the top. He is suspicious that he is hiding something from his report regarding Cell 13. Hajime fights back as he doesn’t like being interrogated. He hates most that people suspects him. Meanwhile Nico is impressed with Upa’s fighting skills and wants him to teach him. Upa refuses so Nico makes a deal if he beats him, he will be his disciple. Upa calls his wish insignificant so Nico says his wish is to have the latest gaming system in addition to anime and manga. Those make the world go round! Upa is surprised that Nico is able to copy moves from Liang. Though, many had to be censored since he is blurting out trademark moves from other anime. In the end, the might of Hajime and Nico finishes off their opponents. The final match will put Building 13 against Building 4.

Episode 6
This final which is a repeat of last year’s final has the first to open this sake barrel wins. Juugo didn’t want to enter but the rest kick him in. It’s his turn. Hajime also wanted to sit this out since he is tired but noticing Hyakushiki giving him death stares (we all know it’s her high level delusions), he changes his mind. It seems Kenshirou has a crush on Hyakushiki and plans to crush Hajime to prove he is her man. Yeah, he is assuming all that. Juugo is shocked to see inmate no. 634 AKA Musashi. He knows him as an ex-cellmate from another prison and isn’t too happy to see him here. As the battle starts, Hajime is owning Kenshirou, bringing joy to Hyakushiki’s inner heart. Kenshirou has his invisible whip trick but that too was easily seen through. However it is not so good going for Juugo. He is getting owned by the blind man. It might seem that Musashi wants to take Juugo’s sight since he was the one who destroyed his eyes but actually he is interested to have his shackles. Juugo would love to give it to him if he knew of a way to be freed. When Musashi notes it is that man with the scar who only knows, Juugo becomes mad. Does he know more about that guy? He becomes a mad dog trying to extract more information. Musashi surprises everyone by throwing flames. Some human combustion theory here. As Juugo is desperate to do what it takes to get info about that guy, this causes his shackles to transform. This is the reason Juugo hates his shackles and the man who put it there because he took away his freedom and tampered with his body’s structure. His hands are now sharp blades and he is looking more like a monster.

Episode 7
We take a detour and go back a bit in time. Tsukumo is surprised he got a visitor but it is his manager, Hanzou Hattori. Yes, Tsukumo is a famous actor and Hattori has gone through lots of trouble in the media claiming he has gone missing as jail time could spell the end of an actor’s career. However Tsukumo doesn’t want to go back to the life of deceit. He accuses him of kidnapping and more appropriately the director who is his mom. Or so he was made to believe. When Director wanted a new ninja movie, she wanted a real ninja to helm the role. She actually managed to find a hidden village but was chased away. However she found young Tsukumo training in the mountains himself (and failing). At first he was sceptical but soon opens up. When he reveals he is ostracized by the village and hoping his training would bring his missing parents back, Director took the chance to play his mother. Her fine acting made the little kid believe so. And so she groomed him up to be a talented actor. Hanzou claims that it was her who brought him up so it is rude to bite the hands that feed him. He ‘threatens’ that he doesn’t like being alone, which is what this prison is about. If he quits acting, what does he have left? Once Tsukumo leaves, he realizes Juugo has been eavesdropping. So he continues the rest of his story that he ran away once he found out the truth. He tried to return to his village but got lost and arrested for trespassing. As he acted as an escaped convict, he tried it and this landed him in Nanba Prison. This opened his eyes of how useless he is other than being in front of a camera. Juugo’s advice is to be himself. Nobody here will force him to become what he is not or treat him differently. This gives Tsukumo motivation to stay true to himself and hopefully will be able to smile truly next time.

Episode 8
Back to Juugo’s mad transformation, the epic super power battle between them is enough to rock the stadium. Everyone is evacuated while the wardens try to apprehend them. They will not listen and continue to fight each other. But the Nanba Prison guards show why they are the best wardens ever as it took Kenshirou, Kiji and Samon to stop Musashi. Meanwhile Hajime is trying to make Juugo spill the beans about his intentions but Juugo is just desperate to find more info on that man. Juugo’s pals intervene to try to stop him but to no avail. He is a rampaging monster. I suppose talking him out of it won’t be any effective. Before Uno gets killed, Hajime takes over and beats him up to a bloody pulp. He only stops when Hyakushiki orders him so. And with that, the tournament also ends. A few days later, Juugo is still in coma. Hajime visits Cell 13 but apparently Uno is still mad about him overdoing his job. Hajime shows no weakness and he admits he will even kill if it is his job. Hajime can’t catch a break as the other wardens also chastise him for going overboard. Then the ‘worst’ hits him. An order from Hyakushiki that he is to be suspended for 3 days. He goes into shock mode? Apparently Hajime is a workaholic so being on leave means… But his pain is nothing compared to the pain Hyakushiki is experiencing. Yeah, she’s crying in her heart over this punishment she has to mete and hopes he would forgive him.

Episode 9
Now Hajime is back, he wants to interrogate Juugo. But Kenshirou states that Musashi won’t talk till he speaks to Juugo. As they want to learn about their powers but can’t risk putting them together, they talk via walkie-talkie. Musashi asks Juugo’s objective. He laughs when it is just to find the man with the scar. He wants Juugo to give his shackles as it is his goal to find that man and kill him. That shackles will lead him to him. Musashi was a monster who can’t control his flames. But this guy claimed he could solve his troubles in exchange to become his experiment. Too bad he became an even bigger monster. He became mad and tried to kill him but he sliced his fire with his sword. So Musashi claims this man has technology that no other possesses. That is why he is willing to find him and fight him with his own technology to stand a chance. It might not look plausible but he is willing to risk his life and he gallows for it. However ever since he came to Nanba Prison, doctors put some chip into his body that controls his fire. So it’s impossible to take his shackles for now. He just wanted to tell him this to see his reaction. Now it’s Hajime’s turn to lecture Juugo. He is empty and lacks greed. Observing his numerous prison break, his lack of greed has him escape not even for fun. Because he has no objective, his escape somewhat barely prolongs his objective, his reason to live. This makes Juugo realize he never wanted anything. So the shackles somewhat gave him a sense of wanting something. Then he realized the lighted up faces of his cellmates. That face of when they have something they want. However the more he feels that, the more he fears of turning into that monster and killing them. So it’s back to ‘running away’. Hajime tells him Building 13 won the tournament so he can name whatever he wants. However Juugo can’t think of anything. After all that brain racking and eye opening thoughts, he screams he wants another chance. Hajime throws his number tag and warns about his harsh life awaiting that will never be the same. Juugo isn’t fazed. He won’t run away and face them head on. Welcome back.

Episode 10
We go back in time to see what happened to our Cell 13 inmates while Juugo was out. Hyakushiki orders Kenshirou, Kiji and Samon to take turns supervising Cell 13. On the first day, Kenshirou escorts Nico to see Dr Okina Otogi for his check-up and medication. It seems the reason the others follow is because of his super sexy android nurse, Kaguya. It is Kiji’s turn on the second day. Seeing how easily they get depressed just thinking about Juugo, he thought of lighting things up by telling the general layout of Nanba Prison. It’s so huge it has a shopping complex and indoor ski?! Soon Kiji and Uno get into an argument over who is more beautiful/handsome. Till Seitarou steps in and they get even more upset because he is the prettiest boy in prison! Samon goes in on the third day but finds them missing. He finds them hiding because Yamato wants to take them for training and they don’t want his hell training. They try to give excuses and delay but eventually they can’t escape his hell training. Meanwhile Hajime who was suspended, brought home work, finished it, finished work of other wardens and even helped in some building construction! Hardcore workaholic! Back to normal time, Juugo still doesn’t understand what Musashi is trying to tell him so Hajime is forced to explain he is betting on him to find the man with the scar since he lost his powers. Juugo feels awkward returning to his cellmates. But they are more than happy to see him back. Because they act like normal, this makes Juugo feel bad as he apologizes for all that has happened. He is sorry for not understanding them and always trying to run away. Sorry for always hiding something. Don’t sweat it. They’re cool with it. Hyakushiki is glad Hajime is back. Because Mitsuru tried to troll her by wearing a mask of Hajime, she beats him up. Hajime is nervous to hand her the report on Juugo’s recovery. The moment he enters and sees her scary face as well as Mitsuru’s bloody body (her scary smile doesn’t help either), he quickly gives the report and dashes out!

Episode 11
Rock’s stone oven is here. He invites Liang over to taste his pizza and Chinese food. Liang is shocked that Rock is even concerned about his health after the tournament and thus baked these foods. He even gets philosophical about the joys of eating. Of course he attributes this to Juugo. Had he not met him, he wouldn’t have changed. Rock was a rich kid. He ran away as he refused to become like his dad. He became a delinquent, thrown into prison and the wardens starve him. Juugo gave his bread but he refused to eat crappy food. Thus Juugo breaks them out just to let him eat at a better place. Food never tasted so good. Nico is under Otogi’s treatment. Everything is well for him except that Otogi is quarrelling with his mad scientist wife, Kazari over this morning eggs. Don’t ask. Nico’s requested games are here. Heck, he’s got an entire arcade. He invites Upa over to play. Upa didn’t like the idea of Nico being his disciple. Kazari passes a handphone that has all the games Nico wants to play. But he notes that it is better and more fun to play with others. Of course Nico also attributes this to Juugo. Trapped in a room and starring at nothing but a white ceiling, he thought he would die like this but Juugo freed him and introduced him to manga. Thanks to him, Nico never felt more alive and wants to carry on living. Musashi passes by and Uno still doesn’t forgive him even though Juugo doesn’t mind it all. But since Musashi does say sorry, Uno forgives him and becomes his friend. He invites him to his game room tomorrow. But there is a strict rule that Musashi is not allowed outside his underground cell. Kenshirou is willing to overlook that provided he tells him about his past.

Episode 12
When Musashi was born, his temperature was higher than others. He led a happy life till his teens when his fire goes out of control. When he became human combustion but survived, that is when people accused him of arson. Things took a toll for the worse when his home burnt down, killing his parents. It wasn’t his fault but the police tried to arrest him but he burnt them. Since there were witnesses, it was the end of the line for him. In a prison in Germany, that is where he met the man with the scar. Of course we already know what happened. It was there he too learnt that his assistant, Elf was the one who framed him and the culprit who started the arsons. They do so because human experiments are illegal in every way. But if such is done on inmates, nobody will care about them, right? Eventually, that prison burnt down and he was transferred here. Although Musashi lacks the power for revenge, his desire to kill him won’t. Musashi thought Kenshirou won’t believe him but he does. Kenshirou was once a cop investigating experiments in prisons. His higher ups would always dismiss his findings. Thus he had no choice but to become a warden to continue his investigations. He promises to bring the culprit to justice because he can’t forgive those who violate the law. Uno invites all the inmates and wardens from the tournament to his new game room. Looks empty. Will slowly build it? Well, those guys from other blocks too donate some of their games. When they are to go back to their cells, the inmates protest too short a time. They get beaten up and sent back. Juugo can’t sleep that night but it isn’t something unpleasant. Uno talks to him and despite naming all his negative traits, it gives him character. It doesn’t matter where they are. As long as they are living happily, they’ll take it slow and enjoy tomorrow. Juugo goes outside to think and never has he felt like looking forward to tomorrow. But he is interrupted by Elf.

Episode 13
Could it all be in Juugo’s mind? But Elf is real. Though, he can pop up anywhere and despite stabbing Juugo, the pain is real but in a flash it is all gone. Juugo tries to act he doesn’t care about Elf but the latter ‘laments’ how cruel for him to forget the guy who saved him. The guy whom some consider as saviour and others as traitor. Juugo might not have clear memories of his past, but there is one that he remembers about a guy telling him to run. Could it be that guy whom Elf is describing interfered in their research and freed some specimens? Elf reminds Juugo he is a puppet and has some very cool stuffs. Juugo acts he doesn’t care so Elf pins him down and hints he is going to cut out his brain. Juugo fears being killed and struggles. He frees himself by transforming his hand as a sword. Juugo accuses him of doing the same to Musashi but it seems Elf doesn’t know what he is talking about. Elf is only here to check on his status. He is here to take some new samples but after seeing Juugo’s angry face (he thinks Elf is gunning for his friends), he has a better idea and will leave for tonight. Juugo is now overcome with guilt it might be his fault again. He fears for tomorrow. That night, Juugo and his cellmates escape again. Once more, they have to face Hajime as the final boss. However Juugo locks down his friends behind and goes to fight Hajime alone. He looks dead serious in escaping this time. Though he won’t say it, Juugo’s logic to escape is so that Elf will keep chasing him and leave his friends alone. They try to tell him to stop but Juugo is rampaging. Still, his blade hands are not match for Hajime’s might. After much pleading to Seitarou they want to stop Juugo, he lets them out. They come in between the brawling men. Juugo stops as he doesn’t want to hurt them. They use this chance to pin him down. End of fight. They reconcile and argue like they’ve always been. Of course one final beat up from Hajime to return to their cell. After Juugo apologizes to them, he vows to protect their future and his.

Episode 14
Hyakushiki fawns over Hajime again. Mitsuru plays another prank on her and she beats him to a bloody pulp. Hajime comes in and sees this bloodbath. He gets freaked out and leaves. Déjà vu? Mitsuru seems to be searching for something interesting to happen all over Nanba Prison but watching the inmates and the wardens, just boring and ‘funny’ stuffs happening. Then we have Building 13’s pet cat, Kuu who is also somewhat a warden since Hajime picked it up a long time ago and let it stay. Kuu is such a friendly cat even Cell 13 takes a liking for it. Kenshirou cursing his height because shorty Samon got a pet from Hyakushiki after doing a good report and because he is smaller than her. Finally we got something ‘interesting’ happening when suddenly a syndrome has everyone swap hair colour. Everything gets chaotic as many do not like the hair colour they swap wife. Of course the one who is not infected by this is Hajime. Guess why? At this point he is the most invincible man in Nanba Prison.

Episode 15
Hyakushiki addresses the new recruits for Nanba Prison. It looks like Building 13 will be getting a new warden. Wow. Who is that cute babe?! Oh wait. Looks familiar… It’s Hitoshi! Hajime is in shock. Worst nightmare? Uno and Rock start their conspiracy theory if Hitoshi is really a guy and related to Hajime. Because there is no way this cute rabbit is related to this brute gorilla, right? Because of that, they start to play a game of tag and if they manage to catch them, they’ll believe. Of course Hitoshi lacks endurance so Hajime wants him to go home instead of being a bother. But he is adamant he wants to help despite being slow and clumsy. However Uno and Rock realize there might be more than meets the eye for Hitoshi. Because when Hajime starts throwing his brother and nothing happens to his body when slabs fall on him, they better believe this cross-dresser is Hajime’s brother now. Looks like Hitoshi has a very strong and durable body. Hajime continues to chase them down by swinging him around! But when Mitsuru is here to get Hitoshi, it seems Hitoshi is only here as he asked a favour and only to be a warden for one day. Hitoshi finds everyone interesting and fun and likes Nanba Prison even more. Am I hearing this right? A person liking prison? So as he says his goodbye, his cute perfect smile has Uno and Rock doubting if he is really a guy. That distraction has Hajime catch them. Hitoshi is now assigned under Kenshirou. Didn’t see this coming too, eh? Honey and Trois try to hit on this hottie without realizing his true identity.

Episode 16
Rock tries to spar with Samon. However he is quick to dodge his punches and enough to inflict damage just by poking. Eventually Rock loses since all he does is swing blindly with brute force. Samon might look cool but the moment Rock wonders why he always loses to Hajime, he loses his cool. Hyakushiki informs her wardens that she is being called for an emergency meeting at the HQ. It is regarding data on Juugo and Musashi. She will be away for a while so she leaves it to them to watch over Nanba Prison. As the wardens discuss later, Mao Nimajita, the substitute deputy supervisor of Building 8 believes that everyone is still suspicious of Nanba Prison because of that incident. He accuses of Samon trying to make a move when Hyakushiki is gone. This irks Samon as he doesn’t want him to put him the same as that person. Mao further accuses him of becoming a supervisor to replace his own brother, Enki who was the former supervisor for Building 5. Seems Enki killed an inmate and then fought his own comrades when they try to stop him just to show off his superiority. After Samon storms off, Kiji slaps Mao for labelling others when he himself isn’t there. He tells Mao off for being jealous that Samon outranks him, act resentful without acknowledging his efforts and insulted his family. He is the worst. Samon laments his fate of always being compared differently from Enki but ever since that incident, everyone now compares him as the same. He is then visited by Noriko Sanzou, an old friend. Her brother, Houzuki was recently posted to Building 5 and she is quite worried about him. She hopes Samon can look after him. She seems to think Enki is still the supervisor since Samon lies that he is the deputy and came in his place. Seitarou reports to Hajime that Juugo is acting strange ever since he seriously tried to escape. It is like he is forcing himself to be normal. When Juugo sees Rock, the latter suddenly attacks him! Similarly when Yamato returns to his office, he attacks his colleagues.

Episode 17
Rock and Yamato continue to attack. While Hajime easily overpowers Yamato, Juugo gets a real beating till he needs some saving from Tsukumo. Even so, Juugo continues to blame himself for not being able to protect Rock. When they spot a weird talisman behind Rock’s neck, Tsukumo tries to grab it. Not sure if Juugo still want to talk through Rock because it isn’t getting through. Rock faints when Tsukumo takes off the talisman. The same when Hajime for Yamato. After seeking treatment, they believe they have seen this talisman somewhere. It is from Building 5. Trying to deduce the culprit’s ulterior motive is no use so what else is there but to head to Building 5 themselves. Initially Hajime will not allow them but because Uno the smooth talker claims he has no manpower and it would be dangerous to leave these escape experts alone, he is forced to take them along. Inside Building 5, Hajime gets trapped in a huge cage. Uno laughs his ass off for the swap places before the inmates get their own karma as they fall down the trapdoor pit. Hajime is confronted by Inori.

Episode 18
Hajime is handcuffed and locked in a cell. Opposite him is Samon in a similar predicament but messed up. The inmates drop into a cell and find Liang and Upa there. They explain that they are in this situation because a former supervisor escaped. They tell what they know and heard about Enki. Flashback shows Samon was trying to find missing talismans when a guard informs him that Enki had escaped. He couldn’t inform earlier because somebody messed up the communication system. Samon decides to handle this himself since there is no time to go back to HQ for backup. He is warned that not only Enki escaped but 2 others as well: Former guard Ruka Gojou guard and also a former boss of an assassination organization. When Samon entered the garden, he saw Ruka frolicking around in the pool before Enki beat the crap out of him for being weak. Ruka mocks Samon how everyone couldn’t stand working under him ever since he took over Enki’s post. Samon is shocked to see Inori on their side. He was the one who messed up the communication system and has never liked Samon. More flashbacks showing Samon was hesitating to take down Enki when he went on a rampage. It was Hajime who stepped up. It is perhaps why Samon is always desperate to surpass him. Because Samon sees nothing else but himself, thus why Inori could always deceive him. Juugo and co try to make their escape when they find Hajime’s nametag on the ground. Uno hatches a plan to save Hajime and Samon because if they escape, harsher penalties would only await them and this will cause Samon more problems. Going deeper underground they find Honey and Trois locked up too. They were invited here but were caught in a trap and Kiji taken away. They join in their plan since the more reinforcements the better.

Episode 19
After dodging the zombie guards, they rest in the ex-supervisor’s management room. While looking around, Juugo stumbles upon a confidential file in which states he is a human experiment. As they head down to the next level, Liang is attacked by a warden, Rokuriki. They notice he has an attack talisman on him and is under the manipulation of Enki. Upa had to finish Rokuriki off since Liang hesitated. The duo let the rest go ahead as Liang places his hopes on Juugo to free the wardens. Do they have to destroy the entrance too just to force them to continue? Liang reminisces how Rock told him Juugo saved him. He didn’t understand his meaning of freedom and he thought it was getting out of prison. Liang trained every day despite being a criminal is because he wanted to repay his mentor (Samon). However he couldn’t do anything when Enki made his move. He started thinking what he could do and realized the meaning of freedom. It is the fact he can do something. Liang faces off with resurgent Rokuriki and this time easily knocks him out. The duo are now faced with Hachiman who is their former boss. He reminds them about the rules of the underworld in which they lived by. People are trash and the strong make the weak submit. He is going to teach them again they are just his tools. Upa quickly beats him up and tells him off they don’t know anything about joining society. That is why they are here to learn and make a fresh start. Besides, they are never his tools. If he wants to go back to a world where power is everything, he’ll have to beat them first.

Episode 20
Upa is surprised that Nico is still around. He puts him aside so as not to let him be influenced by their fight because if he starts imitating them, it will put a strain on his body. When Hachiman unleashes poison gas, he reveals that Qi made it for him. Flashback shows Qi was taken to Hachiman to work for him. In return, he would have his debts cleared. Qi happily did that as long as he could make medicine. He also made sleeping medicine for Liang since he doesn’t want to kill the enemies he is supposed to take out. Liang on the other hand, witnessed his master on the verge of getting killed by Hachiman. Fat pig made a deal with him he will spare everyone and his temple if he just gave Liang to him. He did. A life lesson Liang learnt about being human. While it looked like his master obeyed his teachings and saved a lot at the cost of one kid, it also meant he did whatever he had to in order to save himself. When Qi realized he was making poison instead of medicine, he blew his top. Hachiman had mixed his medicine with drugs and sold them for money. Qi would have wanted to quit but after Hachiman showed him how he brutally beat up Liang for letting go his targets, Qi realizes he doesn’t have the power to defeat him. Without power, you can’t protect anything. If it was so easy to live the right way without really meaning it, villains like Hachiman wouldn’t have existed. Nico tries to help fight Hachiman but without his medicine he grows weak. However he revives when Hachiman sticks lots of poison into him not knowing his special body. Despite so, Nico is still physically weak and Hachiman overpowers him. Nico starts to feel pain when he is strangled. With the remnants of his medicine waning, Nico seems like he has died. But then he comes back alive but with a different dangerous personality.

Episode 21
Nico turns into some wild beast attacking Hachiman furiously since he has got some medicine smell. Nico acts like this because of a side effect of an old experiment where he became a guinea pig to test different poison. Qi then pops up to let Nico attack him so that he can jab him with a serum. This is the medicine that Hachiman forced him to make. Qi also injects one into Hachiman. However this guy is too big for it to take effect. Qi was never on Hachiman’s side as he tells his former boss how he is quick to judge and use others. There is one thing he will never forgive him for. When Upa was brought in, his organs were stolen and presumed dead by his clan. Despite so, Upa continued to work hard under him to buy them back. Angry Hachiman punches Qi. Upa and Liang come to his rescue. Qi explains himself he was just playing the villain. To deceive your enemies, deceive your friends. Upa still doesn’t like Qi because he transplanted his own organs into him after realizing Upa will not live long. The trio team up to fight Hachiman. But they’re not aimlessly missing him. Qi uses poison in the form of gas to slow him down and then paralyze him. Then some flashback of Qi with Samon. Because the latter believed in him, Qi doesn’t understand why he was called a traitor after that Enki incident. It makes him believe he can start over again. The poison takes effect as Hachiman starts to fear for his life. He is choking and strangling himself to death. But don’t worry. The drug is only strong enough to render him unconscious.

Episode 22
Upa can’t help wonder when he removed the talisman on Rokuriki, he felt it wasn’t from Enki. Nico learns of Upa’s reason to protect Building 5. After Hachiman’s organization fell and all of them thrown in prison in China, that is where Upa first met Samon. He sent gifts from Upa’s clan after he told them Upa is still alive. Thus Upa has this principle of returning the favour when someone does something for you. Trois enters a room housing those zombie guards. He checks out the parts that builds them. The rest are then confronted by Ruka who won’t let them go further. Ruka gets mad when they call him a queer as he does not want to be classified the same as Kiji. He sets Youriki and Kokoriki (Building 5’s wardens under control by that talisman) to go after them. Kiji is complaining about his captivity because it is ruining his makeup?! Kiji tries to bribe Ruka by letting him out in exchange of some custom made 100% hyaluronic acid formula makeup kit. Ruka is in a dilemma to betray Enki over this. Trois has dismantled and assembled those zombie parts to create a bazooka and blows the wardens away. Oh, he also modifies it as a flamethrower. As they move along, Juugo seems to be spacing out so they remind him he is an important key to unlock the doors. Ruka heard that and takes Juugo hostage to make them reveal their intentions.

Episode 23
Trois dumps a fire extinguisher on Ruka’s head and they all make a run for it. At a safe distance, mad Honey seems to be unimpressed with Juugo. He tells him to go away. How are they going to unlock doors then? That skill might be convenient but when it comes to anything else, Juugo is practically useless. This means if he is dead, he can’t use his unlocking skill. With Juugo hit hard by his words, Uno gives him assurance about the burden he has to carry, etc. Yeah, he trusts him. Too long their talk that Ruka has caught up. He uses the target to target and get rid of Juugo and Uno. As expected, Juugo is useless when caught and takes a beating. Honey doesn’t want to save them but when Trois tells him how ‘unattractive’ he is now, change of heart? Honey reveals his secret technique which he was supposed to save up to escape prison. Each bullet has strings sewn into them. Look closely and you’ll see that everywhere is riddled with those strings in which he can manipulate like a puppet. Trois is able to deduce Ruka popping up anywhere. Beneath the floors is a pool where he can swim freely. Plus, the floor panels are not fixed and can be shuffled, hence why ‘puddles’ can pop up anywhere. Using this knowledge, Trois is able to pinpoint Ruka’s location as Honey smokes him out (strings him out, rather) and then entraps him between the concrete walls. Ruka can’t escape since Trois literally threw a spanner into the works (the floor) and the ground cannot reshuffle easily. At the end of all that fiery badass explosion, Ruka emerges alive and is going to get real serious in fighting to the death.

Episode 24
Honey uses all he’s got to bring the slabs together to protect everyone from Ruka’s death winds. Better hurry and think of a next plan since he is bleeding out. Trois suggests Uno and Juugo run ahead while they distract Ruka. After all, what can they do? Before Ruka’s death winds could kill Honey and Trois, Juugo turns back to turn the tables in their favour. He is in blade form. He could even absorb Ruka’s death winds and throw it back at him. Juugo almost drowns in the attack so Honey jumps in to pull him out. As they move along, they are now confronted with Youriki and Kokoriki. They are not controlled anymore. However they do not believe the inmates when they tell what is going on and are going to arrest them. Trois and Honey stall them so Uno and Juugo can run ahead. But Uno gets captured by Ruka. Juugo reluctantly moves forward to complete their mission. Youriki and Kokoriki are confused after seeing Ruka. They are in a dilemma to capture which side first. Shouldn’t they capture both? They decide to go after the inmates. The prisoners buy some time by collapsing the walls. They are a disadvantage and can’t attack the wardens because that would only extend their sentence. Trois mentions that Kiji is held on this floor since he can smell his perfume. Uno then hatches a plan that is guarantee to succeed.

Episode 25
Juugo cuts down zombie guards in his bid to find Hajime. Trois reluctantly uses his special charming skill to win Ruka’s heart. It only works on girls but Ruka is an exception because he thinks he is a girl at heart… But I wonder why Trois couldn’t have just used this in the first place? With Ruka under his charm, Honey is able to steal the key to Kiji’s cell. Once they free him, he becomes a nagging monster to put the wardens and inmates in their place. Yeah, this might be worse. We see Kiji isn’t more than just a tranny concerned with his looks (he still is) as he makes Ruka tow the line after a slap (Ruka can’t beat him after all). Kiji leads the way to head back up and reunites with Nico’s group. They are now faced with more zombie guards. Hajime can’t sit around do nothing and wants to bust out. Is he going to risk his limbs? He came here to work and can’t be bogged down by just losing a few limbs. WTF?! But so manly! Luckily Juugo has found him and stops him. However Hajime chastises him for being down here. Juugo shuts him up that he is here on his own will. And there’s that lecture on how his life changed thanks to meeting those guys, blah, blah, blah, he wanted to really escape but the truth was he didn’t want people to hate him, blah, blah, blah. Then Juugo has his turn mocking Hajime for being easily captured and it’s rare to see him in cuffs. Hajime just noticed Samon is here and can’t risk showing his skill. However Hajime doesn’t see the point of it now. After Hajime is freed, at first he wanted to leave Samon behind but thinks about the consequences and his reputation if he escapes alone with a prisoner. Samon is shocked to see Juugo easily removing the handcuffs. Immediately Samon tackles Juugo down. He is mad that Hajime knew about this all along and this means he endorsed an inmate’s escape. Juugo punches him for being too noisy. Oh, but there are more zombie guards here for him to take out his frustration via brute force. Kenshirou makes his way here and Enki prepares to go face him.

Episode 26 (OVA)
Cast away all you know about the series because it is Nanbaka high school version and the characters recast! Seitarou is a new teacher of a delinquent school but often gets bullied by his students who are the Cell 13 guys as well as Hitoshi. Falling for the same tick every morning? They also don’t pay attention and whenever he tries to correct them, they get mad. Hyakushiki is also a delinquent in this school but she rarely makes her appearance. Seitarou notices that Juugo is docile unlike the rest but is warned that he is more than meets the eye. Musashi soon becomes a transfer student to his class and they soon end up fighting. Seitarou tries to stop them but gets beaten up in the crossfire. If you consider him bandaged up from head to toe as alright… Juugo and Musashi are to be expelled for that but Seitarou passionately stands for them because they are his precious students. I guess they like his passion so they agree to let this slide. The delinquents now respect him a little. Seitarou feels glad to be a teacher but he might have said it too soon because the worst delinquent will be back tomorrow as his suspension is over. Yup, that guy is Hajime. Oddly, Hajime sits in front of class and attentively listens to his lessons. Cell 13 guys try to sneak up on him and beat him up but he beats them all up using Hitoshi. So that was a greeting? More so, Hajime strictly makes them pay attention in class and those who try to slip out gets dragged back in. He is also well liked by other students and teachers so what is wrong with him?

It seems a rival school whose delinquent leader is Samon heard about Hajime’s release and his gang is going to pick a fight soon. Seitarou thought he could prevent it by talking to them but they don’t give a damn. Later he learns that Hajime got suspended because Samon and his gang harassed him at his part time job as he fought back. Apparently Hajime was working to earn money for Hitoshi’s surgery. Seitarou tries to talk to Hajime that fighting is bad but that guy is living in a rough world and has come to expect people will look at him with prejudice. The inevitable fight is here. Samon and co have stolen their school’s flag. Before anything could happen, Seitarou comes in between them. He slaps Hajime and got punched back instead. With him being adamant because they are his precious students, Samon and co back down from this farce. But they wish they had a teacher like that too. In the aftermath, Seitarou got fired for hitting a student. It has been a year as Hajime writes a letter to him and he is sorry for that. He studied hard and is now a correctional facilities officer with the Cell 13 blokes often getting into trouble so as to regularly ‘visit’ him. Seitarou looks forward to his next teaching job but discovers this isolated underground prison school that only houses 1 student: Enki. He fears teaching in a school like this again. What are the chances of him dying on the first day?

Nanba Wonderland
WHAT THE HELL???!!! WTF???!!! Nani kore?! Baka?! What in the world is this unsatisfying ‘ending’???!!! Just when I thought things are starting to move again after taking too long with this ‘rescue Hajime’ arc, and here they end the season and the series with this totally f*cking atrocity. This is a crime and they should make it a law for ending an unfinished anime!!! Instead of lightening their sentence, I am very tempted to increase their life sentence! Everyone who made this anime must be sent to prison and locked up forever!!! Ahem… Sorry for the outburst but I need to let that all out instead of keeping inside me before it explodes. But really, those were my sentiments and shock when this series just suddenly ends like that. Nanbaka might not have been perfect but I was overall enjoying it and that ender really took a dive for this series’ reputation. It’s like a sucker punch to say that oh, you’ve been enjoying this anime? Here’s a reminder that prisons aren’t supposed to be fun. Blam. This ending. WTF. Bad endings are one thing, but if there is one thing I can’t stand more than those are the ones that are like this. Unfinished (that atrocious Mahou Sensou comes to mind). It’s like they ran out of budget to even make one more proper closure episode. Sheesh. Sure, there are lots of potentials for it to run for another season but was it necessary to be left hanging like that? I mean, heck, they didn’t even start the final fight with Enki or even do some warming up. Sighs. So yeah. It was fun. And then boring. And then sudden disappointment. Time to move on…

From the way the plot and series is going, I thought it could go on forever since there are quite a number of potential developments. Heck, I was thinking it could go on as far as triple digits in the number of episodes but I think it is a good thing that it ended only 25 episodes. I might sound contradicting but actually it isn’t as based on my paragraph above but from this context that I will be saying it is. Don’t get me wrong. It is not that I did not enjoy the show but at the way the second half has been going, my interests started to wane. Now, I particularly like the first half where they introduce the characters as well as the plot and the mysterious guy in the mask whom I was just really curious and wanting to know how he is connected to all of them and his ultimate goal. But by the time we get to the second half, at first it sounded interesting with the return of badass Enki.

However this final arc (which I somehow feel they want to showcase some Chinese stuff and Journey to the West reference) has been taking too long and it feels like forever. I have a feeling it is to help give other supporting characters like Liang, Upa, Trois and Honey some screen time, to know more about their background and for them to showcase their skills. Yet the progress of this plot feels like it is slowly inching forward. That is why I said it could be on par like One Piece or Bleach who can dedicate an entire episode for one lousy minor plot or drag out a particular fight. Besides, it wasn’t as much fun since the usual quartet of Cell 13 isn’t together (Rock has been out cold ever since right till the end) and Hajime’s presence has been sorely missed as he became a prisoner. Not to say that Hyakushiki was part of the main casts but knowing that she went away and ‘never came back’ (as far as the season ended) felt like we are missing one of those top ‘demons’.

Looking at the heads of Nanba Prison, somehow it reminds me of Bleach’s Soul Society’s Gotei 13. It is like as though they ripped a few familiar elements and mashed them up to get some of the characters you see here. Like Kenshirou feels like a mash up between Byakuya, Zaraki and Kyouraku. Kijin feels like he was taken after Mayuri and who could forget Hajime has this uncanny looks to Madarame because of their shiny bald head. Despite having the same number of heads, this series unfortunately doesn’t show all of them. At least not in this season. It would have been interesting to see all of them because of how weird all of them looks and hence they will equally have some sort of weird personality to go with. Yeah, Nanba Prison is a freak show for both wardens and inmates. So this is where abnormal people go…

Therefore if you start looking properly at Nanba Prison, you really wonder if this is a prison facility. Because the prisoners here are treated more equally than those treated outside and living freely and perhaps even more rights. That is the irony that I came to think about while watching this show. It is no wonder why none of the prisoners don’t really give it a serious thought to escape. No wonder they all look so happy and having fun. Why the hell would you want to leave a place that takes good care of you? Sometimes I feel it gives the wrong message that crime pays. Of course, these prisoners have been to the sh*ttiest prisons all over here before being landed in this final stop. It’s like saying, you’ve been through hell and now be at ease because at Nanba Prison, we treat you like a human being. Yeah, basically that is all what everyone in this world wants. To be treated fairly like a human being. With certain wardens and inmates having ‘close knit’ relationships, it is no wonder they can just walk anywhere within the facility like as though it is some huge gated community! It is a good thing its location is a secret because once people find out how cool it is, they might purposely commit some crime just to be admitted into here. Yes people. Nanba Prison is that good!

With so many characters other than the main ones, it is no doubt that with the limited number of episodes, it is the series greatest asset and liability. Each of the prisoners and wardens have their own past and stories to tell. Through its pacing, we get to discover and learn more about them. Sometimes it makes you feel that they aren’t really such bad people and were put in here under circumstances. Wrong place, wrong time. While some characters have been decently fleshed out, some are just briefly covered. I know it is greedy to want to know about everyone’s past and that is just not possible right now. It could if this series ran forever. But then again, I would have complained that they’re overdoing it and prolonging the series with more episodes to drag out the plot. But with each of their individual traits, it helps make the series funny overall as their silly personalities and ideals clash.

Like the quartet of Cell 13, once you get to know them, they are really fun guys and not as bad as you might have think of them. Like Rock who loves to eat, Nico with his infatuation of Japanese otaku culture and Uno loving to gamble and flirt, everyone is just so freaking positive and sunshiny! They can all attribute this big change to Juugo whom ironically I feel is the one having the issues of battling his inner demons. Despite changing the lives of others, he still finds it hard to change himself. Mostly I see him as confused and trying to find a place where he belongs. He is trying to justify and find a reason why he needs to exist. Can’t blame him after learning what he has gone through but sometimes looking at him trying to play the considerate guy by not getting his pals involved can be annoying. You just want to scream to him to get over it and open his damn eyes because it makes him look like he doesn’t put his faith in his buddies.

Then there is Hajime who is the only one who can deal with the Cell 13 quartet’s shenanigans. Nothing but a bit of violence to help? Maybe because he is a workaholic and the only way to take out his frustrations is to rein in those troublemakers? Yeah, it sounds like a good excuse for a good punching workout. Because anybody who will have to deal with Cell 13 breaking out daily and multiple times would have been fed up by it all and would just quit or request a transfer. Not Hajime. He might not look like it but I have a hunch he enjoys it. Maybe that’s why he ‘likes’ work. Like I’ve said, who else can do this job? Being a male dominated series, Hyakushiki is the only female character (I know there is Noriko but she is neglectable), her running joke seems to be putting up an commanding presence but deep down inside her heart she is just a teen girl in love fawning all over how cool he is. Whether it is a good thing or not her inner feelings do not translate to her outside expression because she always seems scary in the eyes of others, especially Hajime who too also puts up a brave front before her but inside he is scared sh*t.

There are probably a lot more things I would want to say about the other characters but that would feel like rehashing what I know about them so I’m not going to go in depth about it. (Yamato getting lost and his eternal positivism plus relentless training, Seitarou’s pretty boy looks, Hitoshi the cross-dresser, Kijin the queer, etc). The diverse characters not only showcase their personalities but also their abilities which is essential to make the action parts work. It would have been interesting to reimagine that this series would become dark and serious like another prison themed anime, Deadman Wonderland. So we can see how the characters use their unique abilities in battles. Personally, the fight scenes are just ordinary and nothing much to shout about. The series is trying to find a balance between action and comedy (albeit not perfect) so there are decent amounts of fights to go about without getting bored easily. Despite all their silly persona, don’t let that fool you since they are still capable and skilful in their very own right when it matters.

On a trivial note, you might have guessed from the course of watching this anime that all the characters’ names are based on puns off numbers. Mostly are Japanese numbers but there are others whose number punned names are in Chinese or French. So it is safe and more accurate to say that all the characters especially the inmates, we do not know about their real names since we call them based from the number that they were assigned in this facility. Yeah, it would be one big hell of a coincidence if they that name was real and they got a prison number that is a pun of it. Or maybe the prison decided to mess around and gave them a number based on their name. Otherwise, why is there such a large gap between the numbers of inmates in the same building? Unless they assign the number randomly but then again, too big of a coincidence.

The art and drawing are quite bright and vivid. It really doesn’t feel like Nanba Prison is really a prison. Even more so, the very colourful characters. And I don’t mean just their personality but you can see how the prisoners are colourful on their physical appearance. Besides, they all don’t wear the same prisoner uniform. I don’t know if this isn’t part of the rules because if you look to other buildings other than Cell 13, it’s like those prisoners are free to dress in their own clothes they like. Is this a fashion show? I know, if everybody ends up dressing the same prisoner uniform, it would look boring and monotonous. Even without their trademark clothes, they’ve got all sort of weird and colourful hairstyles that make them stand out. Yeah, it’s never visually dull in Nanba Prison. Oh, I also want to mention that doesn’t Hajime look a bit like Saitama in One Punch Man? And doesn’t Hyakushiki look like Akame Ga Kill’s Esdeath? I also noticed that Nanba Prison is one freaking clean prison. You might have noticed that there are this sparkling effects in almost every scene! Yes. Not kidding. I thought they were trolling us or something but you will notice those shiny effects. However in the second half, it seems it has lost its shine. I don’t see them anymore and no wonder the scenes look dark, gloomy and depressing.

There are quite a number of casts here. A few recognizable ones such as Tetsuya Kakihara as Uno, Yu Kobayashi as Upa and Kenjiro Tsuda as Mitsuru. The other casts are Yuuto Uemura as Juugo (Tsukito in Kamigami No Asobi), Airu Shiozaki as Rock (debut role), Daiki Kobayashi as Nico (Oochuu in Reikenzan series), Tomokazu Seki as Hajime (Chiaki in Nodame Cantabile), Satomi Akesaka as Hyakushiki (Esdeath in Akame Ga Kill – wait a minute…), Souichirou Hoshi as Samon (Kaoru in Ai Yori Aoshi), Kimeru as Kiji (debut role), Shouma Yamamoto as Kenshirou (Jun in Amairo Cocoa), Shunsuke Takeuchi as Yamato (Guildenstern in Servamp), Keito Okuyama as Seitarou (debut role), Takao Mitsutomi as Honey (debut role), Yuuto Adachi as Trois (Bruno in Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine), Yuuki Fujiwara as Liang (Shinji in Chaos;Child), Genki Okawa as Qi (Moemoemoe in To Be Hero), Toshiyuki Toyonaga as Tsukumo (Mikado in Durarara), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Musashi (Rom in Show By Rock), Takaya Kuroda as Enki (Renjou in Kurenai), Naozumi Takahashi as Ruka (Bunta in Prince Of Tennis), Kouji Takeda as Hachiman, Eishin Fudemura as Hitoshi (Roman in Tsuki Ga Kirei), Daisuke Kishio as Elf (Suginami in Da Capo series) and Masanori Ikeda as the man with the scar (Shishio in Rurouni Kenshin).

There is something very catchy about the rock opening theme, Rin! Rin! Hi! Hi! by Hashiguchikanaderiya Hugs The Super Ball (say that band name again?!). It feels like fun and groovy. Something that suits the overall theme of the series. As for the ending theme, Nanbaka Datsugoku Riron by the Cell 13 quartet with Hajime sounds very weird. It sounds very messy since they are singing all over the place. And it feels like Hajime’s ‘role’ in ‘singing’ this song is to rebuke and scream his head off. Wait. I don’t think he is singing in most of the parts. Hear him let loose his usual scream at the end of the song. So I guess to distract you from all that messy weirdness, hence they distract you with the synthesizer effects.

Overall, despite its very unfinished ‘ending’ that is hard to ignore by the time you reach the end, this is still quite a funny and entertaining series. It has its potentials and interesting characters but even if the draggy second half took a lot of the fun out of it, the series is still worth watching. Just hope that people don’t get the wrong idea that going to prison is good and hoping for first class treatment as seen here. Nor should they see that breaking out of prison is such a fun excursion and if you get caught, you’ll get another chance to try it again. However, in today’s world I believe with the technological advances in modern society, we don’t even have to commit and crimes to be put into prison. We are all already prisoners of our minds as we are all hooked and influenced by social media. Like how I am serving a life to eternal sentence watching animes… It’s so fun… No wonder I’m not trying to escape from this eternal sentence.

BanG Dream

October 14, 2017

I see we still won’t get our third season of K-ON! And in the mean time waiting for the next season of Love Live! Sunshine, here, have BanG Dream as your snack. Heh. When I first heard that name, I thought it was going to be some sort of ecchi fanservice laden anime. Yeah, it sounds so lewd. So this isn’t about some horny guy whose life goal is to bang every woman in the world? No? Okay. I suppose it has been some time we have an anime revolving around an all-girl band so what better way than to put on a few fresh faces and a new anime about a group of girls to pursue their dreams of reaching for the stars. Well, that glitter in the music sense, that is.

Episode 1
Kasumi Toyama is so excited on her first day at high school that she has to ‘harass’ her sister, Asuka up. The eager beaver quickly makes friends with Saaya Yamabuki who is also in the same class. So enthusiastic that Kasumi rants about her dreams like hearing the beat of the stars during her introduction in class. Either you laugh or start thinking she must be one heck of a weirdo. She tries out several clubs and despite looking like she’s having fun trying them out, none seems to have that oomph. Is she so bored that she has to bug Saaya who helps out her family’s bakery? On her way back, she spots several illuminating star stickers on the walls and poles like as though it is guiding her to somewhere. It leads her to a storeroom and she is caught red handed by Arisa Ichigaya who thinks she is a thief. Because Kasumi is so persistent, Arisa allows her to touch the electric guitar casing. She likes it so much that now she wants to go see a live house. Arisa tells her to do it herself. Too bad Kasumi took the guitar along! So no choice, Arisa has to help her find a live house. Just why? They find one, Space and that’s not the end of the embarrassment. Kasumi states her intention to play the guitar but this isn’t a practice studio. Then they have to pay a ticket admission to enter. At this point Arisa must be damn annoyed and Kasumi continues with her sparkly enthusiasm. The all-girl band, Glitter Green makes their entrance and starts jamming, wowing Kasumi. Now, you want to know what bugs me throughout this episode? The way Kasumi is holding the electric guitar the entire time! Do you know how freaking heavy an electric guitar is???!!! And for her to carry it on her chest like as though she is carrying a book makes no freaking sense!!! Aren’t her arms sore?! Must be so amazed by everything that she can’t feel a thing in reality.

Episode 2
As expected, Kasumi now wants to start a band. The problem is, she is hanging out in Arisa’s home and eating breakfast with her grandma! WTF???!!! Is this worse than stalking?! Yes Kasumi, you don’t have to tell the whole world you’re starting a band. Then she meets Rimi Ushigome whose sister, Yuri plays the guitar in Glitter Green. Although Rimi plays the bass, she isn’t in any band right now. Oh you guess it. Please join my band! Arisa thinks she can annoy Kasumi as she puts up that electric guitar for auction. Can you pay 300,000 Yen for it? And with sad Kasumi continue to bug her, Arisa had to tell her off about her getting close to her so she could get the guitar for free. Because Kasumi continues to stalk her, Arisa gives in. Can’t blame her. She is at her place every single day. She just wants the guitar, right? Sighs. She lets her touch and see for a few seconds. When Arisa learns how she followed the stars here, she remembers planting them when she was younger. Isn’t that public property vandalism? Arisa once played the piano but quit. Wait for it… Please join my band! Didn’t you hear her she quit piano some time ago? When Kasumi takes the guitar case, the handle breaks! Dramatic drama as she becomes so apologetic for damaging it. Well, conveniently they are able to find a music repair shop to restore the guitar. Though, the case is a goner. And I still can’t believe Kasumi carries the heavy instrument all the back like that. Arisa is ‘kind’ enough to withdraw it from the auction and sell to her at 540 Yen (the withdrawal charge). What if still no money? She’ll sell it to someone else. Arisa’s grandma gives her granddaughter the keys to their home’s own jamming studio. Kasumi has her first feel playing a plugged in electric guitar. Amazing, no? And you could say Arisa could have been a tsundere all the while as she joins her band and to use this room on condition that they eat lunch together. No wonder she’s so permissive with Kasumi.

Episode 3
Rimi tells Kasumi the bad news: She can’t join her band! But stupid Kasumi keeps stalking her for a reason! Kasumi keeps optimistic by applying to play for the school’s cultural festival. We know Rimi is a shy girl so she can’t say what she wants easily. It gets scarier for her when western tourists ask her for directions in English. Kasumi thinks she can help out. Though she can speak in English, she’s ‘promoting’ herself as a guitarist! WTF?! Finally Rimi got the guts to tell why she can’t join her band. In short, stage fright. She goes blank when people look at her. The girls are supposed to go check out another concert at Space. You know how freaking eager Kasumi is when she picks up Arisa way too early just to be there and check things out. As the concert gets on the way, Rimi gets news from her sister that her band may not make it in time because of a storm. Space has strict rules of not making the audience wait so the other bands agree to help buy some time. But as time passes, Glitter Green never showed up. I guess that’s it. The gig is over. The audience must be confused since they never turn up. Kasumi won’t let it end this way so she goes out on stage and sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! OMG! If that’s not embarrassing enough, she drags Arisa out to play the castanets as accompaniment! Not enough? Sing again! OMFG! But guess what? I think everybody here is crazy because they think it is funny (sure is) and love it but a lot of people would start thinking how weird this is. So crazy that Rimi has found the guts to go onstage and do play her bass accompaniment of the song! At the end, Glitter Green is here. They’ll take it from here. But you know what? They play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! OMFG!!!!! When will the madness end?! This time with full music accompaniment and they let the trio carry on playing. It’s hard to imagine that this is the song that propelled them for greater things. Now that Rimi has got a taste of this excitement, she really wants to join the band. Wow. This is really one mad episode.

Episode 4
Man. Kasumi is real proud of her pathetic amateur guitar skills. Let’s painfully watch her slowly play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! At least she’s still got the enthusiasm. Heck, even fellow classmate who is also a guitarist, Tae Hanazono thinks she is weird. And since everybody starts calling her weird, you mean Kasumi just realized she is just weird?! Don’t you even cry about it! Tae is kind and patient enough to give Kasumi some guitar lessons. From tuning and even learning some chords. Oh God. More Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I’m sure she is going to turn it into a masterpiece. Kasumi learns Tae once started out in piano but then she saw how cool her mom was jamming. Yeah, mom was a guitar instructor. More annoying crap from Kasumi as she tries to boast and show off her new chords to Asuka. Chord by chord! Guess what song? Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! Yeah, it only uses major chords so it’s easy for newbies. At this rate, Kasumi can now decently play her favourite song. But all the practice comes with a price. As Kasumi hangs out with Tae more often recently, she realizes too late about Arisa. It is no wonder Arisa locks her out of her house! She forgot their promise to eat lunch together and is always rushing off for guitar practice. Heck, what about their band practice that she never turned up? Too late to regret now, Kasumi. To show Arisa isn’t a baddie, she lets her back in but must pay her back generously. I also think she might want to show off her new electronic keyboard she bought. Cool, no? But it is back to her usual breakdown because now that Tae is eating with them, there are 2 Kasumis now???!!! I don’t even… Kasumi is all excited for cultural festival. She even has big dreams after that to go for some audition. However it is time to get realistic. Tae puts her foot down and shoots her down that is impossible.

Episode 5
Tae explains that only bands whom Space’s owner approves get to play on stage. Tae has dreamt on going on that stage but is nowhere close to that despite watching various bands played here. Kasumi promises she will practise till she gets better. How long is that going to take? She’d better. Because Tae wants to feel that kind of excitement again. It never hurts from trying so when Kasumi requests from Space’s owner to play at space, she kicks them out. Owner is not joking and is passionate about it. She was once a band member and went on tours. She created Space to destroy the scary and dangerous image of live houses. So only those who has the same passion for music as her she will allow them to go on stage. After watching another performance, Rimi tells Kasumi and Arisa she made a new song with Yuri together. They hear her humming of My Love Is A Chocolate Cornet. Corny? Kasumi hopes they can try it out. But she can’t read notes. Tabs? Even Rimi has to painfully teach her? Oh, time to seek Tae’s help. See how cool she plays? Maybe they should replace Kasumi with her. So we’d rather have an expert like Tae teach an absolute rookie like Kasumi in hopes she can get better fast before the play? Whatever. Once ready, the quartet hold a mini concert before Arisa’s grandma, Yuri, Saaya and Asuka. It sounds fine and okay. I know it feels unbelievable that Kasumi can be so perfect now. At the end of the performance, they feel excited playing together. So Tae is officially part of the band now? As long as she is happy.

Episode 6
A year ago, Saaya was a member of a band as a drummer. Kasumi has been made the organizing committee for the school’s cultural festival. Quite chirpy as always, isn’t she? First order is to make Saaya her assistant! Wait. I thought they should vote? Well, everyone agrees too so whatever. They want to do a café for the festival and since Rimi suggests a bread café like Saaya’s bakery, why not? Yeah, so easy to just go ask for free breads, right? Kasumi is going to get busier because she too wants her own mini band to play at the festival. She hears Tae play a draft song she just wrote this morning and wants to play that. Is it me or does that song sound so much like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? Oh well, that’s their inspiration song, I guess. Kasumi and her friends converge at Saaya’s bakery to test the aprons they will be using. Saaya’s little bratty kid brother must be very shy with so many girls over since he can’t bully his little sister. Only Kasumi stays over to brainstorm for ideas. Arisa claims she isn’t an easy woman (whatever that means) while Rimi and Tae strangely go out for sukiyaki together (is there some sort of lesbianism brewing between them?). As usual, Kasumi puts up her sparkly optimism and Saaya just smiles. Next day as they put up posters, it seems Kasumi has decided that the band’s name is Poppin’ Party. Poopin’ Panty what? Just kidding. However she has also put Saaya’s name in the band. Did she say she wanted to join? Coincidentally, Saaya bumps into her old friend and ex-bandmate, Natsu. She sees Saaya’s name and is glad she is in a band. However Saaya’s fake smile is so obvious. It screams that she didn’t want to be in this sh*t. She denies so and says her friend wrote it by mistake.

Episode 7
Flashback shows Saaya and her ex-band were excited to play their first gig. However Saaya got a call from mom. Actually her little brother called and is frantic something happened to mom. The gig was cancelled as she rushed home. Although mom is okay, she still get panic attacks from that traumatic incident. I guess Kasumi realizes too late they don’t have a drummer. Time to go around looking for one. Apparently she tries Hinako Nijukki who is the drummer of Glitter Green. But she thinks there is someone better to fit them: Saaya. But talking to Natsu and other bandmates don’t seem to reveal clearly why Saaya stopped playing. Like in true Kasumi’s fashion, she goes to bug Saaya herself. She knows why she is here so they talk privately. But still, nope. Not going to play in your band. To cut short that burst of emotions from Saaya why she can’t play, she is worried mom might fall sick from overworking again. Kasumi even offers to help with her shop and school work but that’s not enough. Saaya blames herself that everyone prioritizes her first. Because of that, she believes she messed up everything and made everyone anxious. That won’t be fun, right? Don’t waste your efforts on her, says she. Saaya’s crying. Kasumi’s also crying too. Oh, now Kasumi is trying to impose on her not to decide for herself? Let’s decide together. WTF. This ‘quarrel’ is interrupted when Saaya’s little sister caught the crying bug thinking they’re fighting. Time to pretend to make up. So it’s over? Not yet. Since Saaya insists she won’t join, Kasumi says she’ll be waiting. Don’t hold your breath…

Episode 8
Arisa gets a rude awakening since Tae is kissing and hugging her! What kind of dream is she having? She is still probably in dream land or just rolling Arisa as she continues her unsolicited rape. Saaya has her own rude awakening. Mom is starting to have those again… Although mom is rushed to the hospital and her condition stable, Saaya is going to stay by her side and skip the cultural festival. This means Kasumi and the rest have to do their best and make it a success. We see them doing their shifts before going around and checking out other stuffs like the haunted house and Asuka’s maid café. Is Tae their unofficial photographer? Saaya receives 2 messages from Kasumi. The first one was a call to ask about her mom and others. But the rest tried to hijack her call so that’s where the second message came. It’s about leaving their newly written song in an envelope for her to read (if she wants to). The lyrics resonates with her because it made her cry. Cue for mom to tell Saaya to go and have fun. At first she is stubborn but there is only a limit to how long she can be persistent because the plot says she has to become a band member. And with that, off she goes, running her way to school while listening to the music. Want to bet she can memorize it all at one go? Poppin’ Party is next and they manage to play their Cornet song without a drummer. When Saaya reaches school, she bumps into Natsu. Before Saaya could apologize, Natsu says they had fun. It’s her turn now. Saaya makes her ‘grand entrance’, much to the delight of her bandmates. She tests the drum kit and shows off her awesome drumming that she hasn’t lost a single touch with. Then we hear their song, Star Beat. Kasumi introduces the band members at the end of it. While everyone is having fun, we end with a cliff-hanger as Space’s owner decides to close the live house down.

Episode 9
Saaya goes to check out drum sets. They seem pricey but hey, her parents can help pay the balance. So she settles for this electronic piece. So as they get eager to practice, Tae receives word that everyone in Space is out from a cold. What are the chances of that? Since Space can’t cancel the much anticipated Glitter Green and Roselia’s performance, thus they go volunteer to help especially Kasumi who is just bugging to help. Okay. Hey, you don’t get such free labour in the form of cute girls these days. Luckily owner is around to supervise or else the temptation to fool around is too great. Glitter Green arrives for rehearsal. Poppin’ Party wonders why their school’s student council president is here. The moment she takes off her glasses, they recognize her as Glitter Green’s keyboardist! OMG! Superman-Clark Kent effect here! Superman’s identity will definitely be safe in this anime! After that, Roselia makes their entrance for rehearsal. The event goes well. As they are cleaning up, Kasumi sees a band member of Roselia crying and everyone else trying to console her. Not sure if she screwed up or felt it wasn’t up to par but the owner hints it isn’t the end of the world. Poppin’ Party tries standing on stage for the experience. Soon, they get their own audition to see if they are fit to play there. Well, less than perfect. So when owner asks who thinks they did well, only Kasumi raises her hand with optimism. The rest just looked embarrassed. Anyway, owner can’t let them play here and they have to do better than that. Don’t worry. Kasumi will practice as long as it takes. You don’t say because Tae saw Space’s schedule and notices the latter half empty. Then she breaks the news to them that she is closing down Space.

Episode 10
Tae looks like she is going crazy and Kasumi is ‘missing’. But when Kasumi returns, she is as lively as ever as she has designed outfits for their outfit. Next time they go see owner for another chance at the audition, she tells them they’re not there yet. Natsu’s band, Chispa is here to audition. Cheese pack what? Despite being all over the place, owner asks if they think they made it. Natsu confidently answers they believe they did everything they could. Owner passes them. While Poppin’ Party is happy for them, it makes them think what they are lacking. Yuri says that there is no one correct music. The answer is different for everyone. So all of them especially Kasumi thinks really hard. Kasumi thinks she really got it so she goes bug owner that night just to tell her how much she loves Space and will definitely play here. Really? Owner shuts her up with this: She is the worst of the lot! Heck, even Arisa is giving her piece of mind if she is tired of it all. I mean, when does it end? After a flawless performance? After playing at Space? She is always looking like having fun but Arisa is thinking having fun isn’t what it’s all about. So is she hinting she isn’t having fun in Poppin’ Party? So everyone works hard by continuing to practise. Yeah, Kasumi goes the extra mile by practising so hard that a couple of picks broke! So the next time Poppin’ Party shows up for audition, owner lets them in. Everyone looks ready. But Kasumi looks she has doubts. At this time? And as they start off, suddenly Kasumi cannot sing! No, she hasn’t lost her voice since she can still talk. Somehow she just cannot sing.

Episode 11
Gloomy. Depressing. Hey, at least it’s quiet since she can only talk softly. Oh sh*t! She visits the doctor and nothing wrong was found. She is told to rest so I guess no band practice. Yeah, not even playing her guitar. Besides, they have one more chance for the audition. So no hurry. Wait. You better hurry before Space shuts down. Being a ‘mute’ has its perks. She doesn’t have to answer when the teacher calls her. Otherwise she is acting weird. Like walking home in the rain and kissing Asuka?! Yikes! Better get her voice back fast! As she talks to Yuri, if it is not nervousness causing this, it could be stress. Kasumi? Stressed?! What’s Asuka’s opinion about this? She thinks she might be in a slump. Next morning, Kasumi wakes up and realizes she has her voice back! Oh no. The craziness is back. Right away they head for practice. But wait… She still can’t sing! I guess practice is over. For added drama effect, Kasumi runs away to cry in the park. Her bandmates catch up. I guess Arisa has enough of it. She starts off harshly about this farce. Kasumi is the one who is least making any improvements so why is she suddenly so concerned now? After Kasumi reveals what owner said, Arisa continues her criticism. It sure is true since Kasumi drags everyone in without asking their opinions first. It caused everyone lots of trouble. Of course we now have to say good things she did like how she amazingly brought together a band and she did learn how to play the guitar quickly. Since she is still adamant she wants to play at Space with them, they all start taking turns to sing a line of a song. When it is Kasumi’s turn, she ekes out whatever she can. Sounding soft and out of breath. At least it’s an achievement considering her circumstances.

Episode 12
Kasumi gets this idea of designing their t-shirts for practice. But first they have to study for the tests. After that they continue practising. They have a sleepover at Tae’s place. So no pillow fight and turning in early? No wonder nobody can sleep (except for Tae) so they watch the sky anyway. Too cloudy anyway. So D-Day is here for Poppin’ Party. This is their last shot at the audition. And after a group rally, they start strutting their stuff. Kasumi can sing albeit I feel it is not 100% perfect. Once the song ends, Arisa starts crying! She realizes she made a few mistakes despite practising so hard. Infectious enough to affect Rimi as she cries about the same thing. Before more could be infected, owner asks that question but aimed at Kasumi. Her reply? We pulled through. After lecturing how people do music because they love it, she finds their performance satisfying and passes them. Okay. Time for a big group hug and let all those tears flow. Yeah, everybody watching outside can also cry too.

Episode 13
Kasumi is being her usual chirpy ‘harasser’. She even joins in with whatever yuri thing Tae is teasing Saaya with. As this would be Space’s last performance, we have Glitter Green, Chispa and Poppin’ Party gracing it. The place is packed with people even during the day rehearsal. Even Poppin’ Party’s families are here. So there’s lots of preparation and nervousness before the main event begins. Glitter Green goes first followed by Chispa. And so Poppin’ Party who is making their first live performance is ironically Space’s last performance. At first Kasumi introduces the band and how it all started. I guess they can be good stand-up comedians in a way since everyone is ‘criticizing’ how Kasumi dragged them all into forming this band although it was for the greater good. And with Kasumi giving that silly reaction, no wonder the crowd is laughing. And so here is their song: Dreaming Sunflower. Enjoy. Goodbye and thank you very much.

Time for some low quality fanservice. I guess it is boring to see girls studying. So what are they going to do for fun? Go to the beach! Oddly, the guitarists brought their guitars along. With all the excitement and hype, amidst the chaos Arisa somehow ended up getting dragged into Kasumi’s pace and holds her guitar while in the sea?! Be careful not to get it wet. And Tae just leaves her guitar unguarded on the beach before dipping in. Wow. So fun. So carefree. Eventually they find a kind beach house owner to help safe keep their belongings. Who would ever reject cute girls? Meanwhile the girls of Roselia are practising in a rented summer house nearby. Yukina Minato is having trouble writing the perfect song. So what Lisa Imai suggest? Go to the beach! So Poppin’ Party and Roselia bump into each other. Can we have fun together? Sayo Hikawa insists they are here on a training camp. Eventually everyone has to loosen up by playing beach volleyball. This is what is all about, right? Too bad the dramatic drama and screw ups overshadow the low quality fanservice. I’m not sure if it’s true but once Sayo changes her casual clothes into her swimsuit, her team plays better! Proof that beach volleyball is all about showing skin if you want to level up? Anyway, we don’t know who wins because nobody kept count (so as to avoid clash between Poppin’ Party and Roselia fans). Kasumi has this idea for them join forces and form a 10 woman band called Roselia Party. The beach house owner has Poppin’ Party do a sound check. They go on stage and strut their stuff. Because there are no drums, Saaya sings the vocals along with Kasumi. There is a recorded drum play but it’s so perfect that it makes me wonder do they really need a drummer. As expected, Poppin’ Party is so good that the audience loves them and this gives Roselia motivation to practice and Yukina has found the inspiration for her perfect song. You mean it wasn’t the beach volleyball that fired them up? Just kidding.

Crash! Boom! Bang! Keep Dreaming…
ZzzZZzzzZzzz… Oh… I see the season is over. Oh boy. I guess I’m not really cut out for this kind of shows anymore. So the only thing I was hoping that would salvage the entire season was why Space’s owner decided to close it down. She has been doing it for almost her entire life and I don’t see why she decides to shut it down now. It’s not like she hates music or got bored with it. Definitely not. Maybe her reasons are personal and if she doesn’t want to tell us, fine. Thus I can only speculate that Space’s closure is because she needed to push all those young girl bands to a better place. I mean, can’t be playing in this cramped space forever, can you? Because we see how ‘depressed’ Yuri was at first when the place was closing down. So with Space’s closure, hopefully all band hopefuls who dream of performing big or small would find a better space to play their music. If they love music, they can go anywhere. Also, Space’s closure is to push Poppin’ Party and make it look as though they have made it through the final hurdle in time. Mission accomplished in time! Hooray! Now they don’t look like losers. Other than that… Yawn… Even the beasts that were awakened to destroy humanity and the planet would immediately go back to its slumber. Oops… Am I too harsh?

Unfortunately I’m so bored that I couldn’t really feel connected and how deep the interaction and bonding of the Poppin’ Party members. In anime genres like this one, a small group of characters is supposed to drive the story and their character development but it is a sad thing that I don’t really feel that emotional feel it. Yeah, maybe I’m such a dead person… I know everything this season feels just like the beginning of everything, the discovery of stuffs and the motivation that is needed to pull through. I know that they are going to pull through somehow with all the drama and ‘obstacles’ in their way, I’m sure they will overcome it. From gathering the band members (it took more than half the season) to Kasumi losing her voice and finally passing the audition. All as expected. Yeah, I sound like an expert in watching this genre but I can assure you I’m not.

So I am going to blame primarily Kasumi for the ‘boring’ character development. Just like in K-ON! and both Love Live series, the leader must always be an airhead (such leaders are even expanded to other animes like One Piece). However as compared to the rest, Kasumi passes off as more annoying than anything. She really gets on your nerves. For one thing, she goes at her own pace and doesn’t listen to everyone and drags them all into her own pace whether they like it or not. She could be one of the world’s greatest stalkers thanks to her persistence. It might look like she is giving you a choice but you realize that there isn’t any options because the only way to stop her from bugging you is to conform to whatever she wants. And because she says and does everything with that sparkly silly smile in her face, it makes it all hard to turn her away. Case in point: Arisa. Poor girl. Thankfully everything turned out fine and thus Kasumi is a ‘heroine’. Had it turned out badly like for example if everything flopped real hard, no doubt she will bear the full brunt of the blame. Dream over. Break up. Depression. Lethargy. Regrets. Suicide. Woah! Too dark a theme for a series that is all sunshiny, cheerful and bright.

I know it is good to be optimistic and passionate but the way Kasumi is portrayed doing so feels a bit unrealistic. In the real world, she would have been shot down as being ‘meiwaku’ (annoying and troublesome) and ‘shitsukoi na’ (persistent). I want to punch her at times but seeing how cute she is, I realize it’s even wrong to punch anybody. If Kasumi wasn’t in this band thingy, she would be hell of a good saleswoman. To show that she is human, somebody grumpy had to point out her flaws and it really hit her. Imagine someone telling you off you’re the worst when you are still on your high horse. Not so fun anymore, eh? I guess once in a while you have to be brought down to earth. Another unrealistic thing about Kasumi is how fast she becomes a guitar master in a short space of time. Do you know how long it took me to get to that level?! Maybe Tae was a good instructor but the fact we see Kasumi making so little progress at first and then suddenly becoming a pro when it matters, it just makes it all feel unrealistic. Did she sell her soul to the devil or something?

If there had to be a favourite character of mine in this series, I would definitely go for Arisa. In short, she is a funny girl. Like in any other group, there needs to be one who retorts and this is exactly what Arisa’s role is for. Because the rest are like ‘zombies’ and pandering to Kasumi so we need Arisa as a voice of reasoning and objection sometimes. She is the other one besides Kasumi to have this lively personality. But unlike Kasumi whom I consider as annoying, at least Arisa is funny. One reason is that she is a tsundere and it clearly shows at times when she doesn’t really want to do it but does it eventually or tries to give excuse to justify it isn’t so but it is in reality. So Arisa, never change. Of course, to also at least to show she is also human, she also cries and makes mistakes especially in their final audition.

For the rest of the other band members, I feel that they are boring and don’t really stand out. Heck, I think they all feel the same. They all have their issues to deal with at first but once they overcome that, they start to feel the same. Like Rimi who was once a shy girl. Now no longer obviously shy, she’s such a good and happy girl. Tae is also an airhead and at her own pace like Kasumi but at least she is not as annoying. Being Kasumi’s guitar teacher at first, once Kasumi ‘graduates’, Tae is just a good and happy girl. Saaya as the last member to join thanks to her worrywart issues also becomes nothing but a good and happy girl once she has less anxiety. I don’t know when it happened but there seems to be some sort of close friendship struck between Rimi and Tae ever since the band is completed. Did I miss something there? Or maybe Tae is just a little yuri by nature…

As for the other supporting characters, I can’t say the same for them. I feel they hardly make an impact at all. Glitter Green has got their own track record so I don’t see the need for them to even intervene with Poppin’ Party. Though, Yuri sometimes gives advice. Owner might look like a grumpy old woman but I am sure she just wants the best from out of those bands who play at her Space. If they’re not going to take this seriously, they’re not going to take music seriously anyway and thus do not have the right to play. She has seen lots of bands come and go and hence perhaps why she isn’t amused by Kasumi’s overhyping reactions. She’s lived long enough to see it all. I thought there might be some sort of issue with Asuka since she has this gloomy and troubled looks at the start. As the series progresses, she shows less of it as she opens up to her sister. Maybe it is because of Kasumi as an annoying sister that she doesn’t like? If so, then aha! Told you Kasumi was damn annoying!

Art and drawing are okay. One reason why I kept thinking how this series reminds me of Love Live is because of how cute the girls are. Perhaps it was the factor that made me watch this series… Not only Poppin’ Party but those other band girls too have this very cute looks. They have this very cute idol looks but the only difference of them instead of prancing around on stage, they hold and play instruments. Thus if destiny did not make them pick up the guitar, keyboard or drums, they will don flashy idol outfits and start dancing on stage with cute (and sexy) choreography dance moves. I noticed that there is some CGI used in here albeit only limited to when the band plays on stage. However the CGI is not that bad and is almost fits seamlessly into the overall animation. You might not notice the difference but if you looks closely you can tell when the animation is a bit different than the usual.

Since this is a series on music, I can’t say that I really like them. I’m not saying that the songs suck but they don’t really resonate with me. There are a few decent ones but it didn’t make me go crazy over it. The opening theme, Tokimeki Experience somehow sounds so much like an idol song that could be sung by the idol group in Love Live. Just add some electric guitar to make it sound like they’re a rock band. Oh wait. They are. The same can be said for the ending theme, Kirakira Da Toka Yume Da Toka ~Sing Girls~. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star although is spammed in the first half, thankfully that is done away once they have their own music.

For the voice acting, I guess it feels okay. Having a good singing voice is necessary for this kind of series and Poppin’ Party does a decent job in that. At least better than mine. The main casts are Aimi Terasaka as Kasumi (Sherry in Plastic Memories), Ayasa Itou as Arisa (Alice in Milky Holmes series), Rimi Nishimoto as Rimi (debut role), Sae Ootsuka as Tae (debut role), Ayaka Ohashi as Saaya (Yayaka in Flip Flappers), Suzuko Mimori as Yuri (Sanae in Teekyuu), Yuka Ozaki as Asuka (Serval in Kemono Friends) and Mami Koyama as Space’s owner (Balalaika in Black Lagoon).

Overall, this isn’t a bad anime but it is just boring and sometimes unrealistic to me (even if it is just anime). I read there are many positive comments on this show but like music itself, everyone has different tastes and opinions about it. Annoying main character puts me off at the start but I still persevered like the band because I was hoping that things would change for the better. Okay, I’ll give them that since they’re making small steps at a time. At least this is realistic because you can’t have them suddenly playing at the Budoukan and selling record breaking sales all over the world. Well, no harm in dreaming about that. But still, you have to wake up and make it happen or it will still be a dream. Meanwhile I am dreaming how BanG Dream would be an awesome name for a porn title…

Uchouten Kazoku S2

October 13, 2017

Well what do you know? I never expect Uchouten Kazoku to actually have a second season. Since it was almost 4 years since the first season was aired. Of course it came to a surprise to me because it means I have to go back and refresh my memory… Nah. Too lazy. Thankfully I still have a general gist of what is about and what has happened. Some tanuki family. Some old tengu guy. Some argument between the tanuki clans that resulted in the death of the tanuki patriarch into the bellies of a few humans. And oh yeah, that mysterious Benten. Benten, oh Benten… I think clearly she is the reason why I’m looking forward to watch this sequel.

Episode 1
Yasaburou narrates how his dad was the leader of the Tsuchinoko Expedition Squad met a beautiful lady guarding the steps. After a hard fought victory, they married and he had 4 sons. However none of them carried his legacy and become known as his idiots. Even so, there is no other way Yasaburou could live besides living the idiotic path. So now he has become the leader of the Tsuchinoko Expedition Squad and Yashirou becomes his only member. Mom finds it foolish, Yaichirou is more focused to bring back a shogi tournament despite not playing shogi himself while Yajirou certainly wouldn’t like to become fodder for a ‘snake’. While setting traps for the tsuchinoko, a fancy sofa drops nearby. They thought they could take it as long no one claims it but the Kurama tengu guys nearby are going to have fun bullying them. They want to see how far they can throw Yashirou but Yasaburou transforms into a giant white elephant. Then this guy in a fancy suit and top hat floats down. Nidaime as he is known is supposedly son of Akadama (Yakushibou) who has just returned. The Kurama guys mock how they kicked out his father from the mountains and that he is living a pathetic life dependant on a tanuki. In that case Nidaime will finish him off himself. Yasaburou wants Yashirou to go tell Yaichirou of his return while he rushes down to Akadama’s place. Nidaime arrives and father is glad to see him. Only, he can tell Yasaburou is impersonating as him. As Yasaburou doesn’t know where his father is, he offers to pick up his belongings scattered by the Kurama guys. Nidaime appreciates it and wants to pay him as it isn’t his policy to be indebted by others but Yasaburou it is a tanuki’s role to serve the tengu. Nidaime says he is currently staying in a hotel and that he is not a tengu. Akadama is in fact sleeping soundly in the closet still dreaming about Benten who has gone vacation overseas.

Yasaburou and Yaichirou are at the clinic. They see Gyokuran Nanzenji whom Yaichirou has a crush on, organizing a shogi tournament. They are annoyed by the return of those idiotic twins, Kinkaku and Ginkaku, although their eldest brother, Kureichirou apologizes for their idiotic state. Then talking with Heitarou Yasaka, he wonders if this is the real Nidaime. 100 years ago, father and son had a fierce battle that lasted for 3 days and 3 nights. The son lost and left Japan. There is going to be lots of strife between them and it is strange he would deny himself as a tengu. For now Yasaburou is to keep an eye on the tengu. When Yasaburou returns to Akadama, it seems he knows that his son has returned so he wants him to deliver a challenge letter to him. Yasaburou visits Nidaime at his hotel. He wants to pay him but Yasaburou says he is saving up for a bigger favour for later so this payment isn’t enough. Then he shows the challenge letter. Nidaime tosses it aside and says he might or might not go. Don’t assume he wold. That night as Akadama waits, the Kurama guys are already watching and anticipating from afar, betting that Akadama would lose and what they’ll do with his body. Then here comes Nidaime. Looks like all of these years, the bad blood still hasn’t gone away.

Episode 2
Before the battle can start, Akadama loses his balance. Luckily Yasaburou is there to catch him. Looking at his pathetic state, Nidaime mocks his pathetic living and isn’t worth killing before flying away. Later Yashirou tells Yasaburou that those idiotic twins seem to be fascinated with Nidaime and want to follow in his footsteps and be an English gentleman. Yeah, they’re following him around. He then asks if Yasaburou is going to get married to Kaisei but he denies since it is cancelled. The promise doesn’t matter anymore. But Yashirou says that there are no more obstacles to them so if they want to get married, just do it. Yasaburou is then called for a job. It seems a guy named Tenmaya opened a ramen shop on the rooftop. The guys tried to confront him but he scared them off by elongating his chin! So Yasaburou goes talk to him and he lives by the name of entertainment. Yasaburou thought he could trick him by turning into a bear but then he starts multiplying his toy hippos? The next thing Yasaburou knows, he is walking through the crowded arcade! Everyone is scared sh*t! Even the police are afraid. Luckily Yashirou was there in time to pick him up when he returns back to normal. It took a while before Yasaburou regained consciousness and thanks to Kaisei’s idea of throwing him into the river. She scolds him for getting tricked by a human.

Yasaburou then goes to see Yodogawa (previously known as Hotei). It seems he is in a new club now that advocates against eating tanuki, with a master artist named Ayameike who runs an art shop with his wife. After finding him in the woods and bringing him back, it seems they have another guest: Tenmaya. This guy wants to help sell his paintings but Ayameike isn’t so interested. Then something about Ayameike as a vulgar man so Tenmaya wants to celebrate it by showing them an entertainment. He multiplies the lights till it gets overwhelming and then they suddenly disappear. It’s just an illusion. On the way home, Yasaburou asks Yodogawa about Tenmaya. All he knows that he was once in Friday Fellows under Jurojin. But he incurred his wrath and disappeared. That was a few years ago. Surprisingly this guy pops up before them. He seems to be bugging Yodogawa about his protest on eating tanuki. He wants to get along since they’re both outcasts but Yodogawa declines. Yasaburou then returns to Ayameike to ask for advice to get back at Tenmaya since he tricked him before. He is shown a painting that Ayameike always hides whenever Tenmaya visits as he wants to burn it. The paining is of hell. Ayameike was commissioned to draw a Buddha in it. A temple priest asked him to draw it and he doesn’t know who the actual owner of the painting is. It is believed Tenmaya was from this painting and used Buddha’s spider thread to get out. Yasaburou then returns to Tenmaya, thinking he can scare him by transforming into a demon trying to drag him back to hell! Though it may look like Tenmaya is scared out of his sh*t, he may just be trolling because he whips out his rifle. Can you shoot a demon?

Episode 3
Yasaburou surrenders and he would like to have that rifle back since it belonged to Nidaime. No can do. Tenmaya then does another trick by plucking the moon out from the sky with his hand! Tenmaya learns he saw that hell painting. He claims Jurojin’s illusions got the better of him. When he learns Yasaburou knew Jurojin from Benten, he becomes upset because that woman is the source of it all. He put lies into Jurojin’s head. While cursing Benten, look who returns? Benten! She is dominating over him stepping on his bald head. She takes the moon from him and wants to keep it. When Tenmaya frees himself and fires a shot, Benten swats it away with her hand! Then she lifts and throws him away! OMG! She has Yasaburou carry her luggage but in exchange he hopes she puts his moon back. Okay. Yasaburou and Tousen (Mother) go to see grandma. Can’t make out this shiny furry blob… She is asking for a cure for Yajirou’s case. Grandma says the water at the bottom of his belly is dry and will have a medicine concocted by Touichirou to be drank while doing the transformation. Grandma meets Yasaburou for the first time. She says something about him needing to work hard to overcome something and to cause lots of trouble. Yasaburou then goes visit Yajirou. He learns froggy is also trying to participate in a shogi tournament. He lets Yasaburou know that Nidaime has moved out from his hotel. Apparently he is now living on a rooftop. He sees Nidaime trying to iron his shirts in record time? Yasaburou introduces Yashirou to him. Nidaime explains this lavish place was provided by the idiotic twins whose father has left the place and it would be a shame to let it go to waste. He paid them a pot of gold so there is no debt. Nidaime still insists he is not a tengu when Yasaburou suggests he put his tengu skills to good use. After Nidaime gives goggles to Yashirou, he has them leave since it is his naptime. However Benten waltzes in and makes herself home on his sofa. He politely tells her to get off but she won’t. After placing the tablecloth on the floor, he pushes her off down on it. Then he proceeds to sleep comfortably on his sofa. Oh no. Yasaburou can feel bad blood brewing. Is the world going to be destroyed?!

Episode 4
Benten says she is not mad?! But she took out all his ironed shirts and stepped on them! By wary… Yasaburou seems to be substituting some tanuki at the zoo as he plays shogi with Yajirou. Gyokuran comes to visit as support, though she wonders why Yaichirou isn’t playing when he worked so hard for the event. During the shogi tournament it will be Gyokuran against Yajirou. Some tanukis imitate as live shogi pieces. Trouble starts kicking up when Yasaburou get into an idiotic argument with the idiotic twins. Ignoring their master, the argument picks up when both sides try to outdo each other by becoming some super non-existent piece. When Yaichirou tries to stop his brother, the idiotic twins start embarrassing him by saying how he always favours Gyokuran and mistreats them. It gets out of control when Gyokuran transforms into a tiger and scares the sh*t out of everyone! Run for your lives! Too late to apologize. Later Yaichirou scolds Yasaburou for that but Yasaburou isn’t repentant and blames him for being an embarrassment to Gyokuran instead. Yasaburou finds father’s shogi board in Yaichirou’s hideout. He remembers Yaichirou played Gyokuran when they were younger. He ‘abused’ the board when Gyokuran purposely lost. Tousen talks to Yasaburou that she has taken a liking for Gyokuran and perhaps it is time for her eldest son to marry. Yasaburou talks to Shoujirou (Gyokuran’s brother) as she is holing up inside the temple to reflect upon herself. He talks about the God of Shogi taking away those possessed by shogi. He hoped Yaichirou would be that God to take Gyokuran. Yasaburou then talks to Gyokuran inside and makes her laugh with his silly shogi moves. It made her remember a day long ago when Yasaburou was Akadama tied him up in some tree and Yaichirou and Gyokuran went looking for him. Yaichirou is shocked to see father’s board with Yasaburou. The latter wants him to apologize or play and beat him if he wants it back. Halfway while playing, Yaichirou didn’t realize his brother switched with Gyokuran. She hopes he would play shogi with her again. He relents. After he admits his loss, Gyokuran notices a hole in the middle of the board. Upon touching it, she gets sucked into it.

Episode 5
Yaichirou and Yasaburou also touch it and get sucked in. They realize they’re in Souichirou’s shogi room. This room is connected to Akadama’s place. The brothers discuss about the Gozan Festival. Due to last year’s incident, their ship cannot be repaired in time and the ship they wanted to rent was bought out by the idiotic twins. Yasaburou then seeks Akadama’s permission to borrow the tea kettle. He agrees but wants to know why he visited Nidaime. Akadama doesn’t acknowledge Nidaime as his son, successor and tengu. It might seem Yaichirou is embarrassed to confess to Gyokuran when she is the one bold enough to confess and tell him to say it. He head butts her?! Turns out Yasaburou was disguised as Gyokuran for him to practice. Yajirou transforms into a train for the gang to have fun for Gozan. Akadama lectures Yaichirou and Gyokuran to just be honest and say they love each other in which Gyokuran did. Also, that shogi room was where Akadama locked Souichirou and Tousen inside to settle it once and for all. Because they decided to get closer, thus you the brothers were born. Yasaburou notices Benten sitting on top. Did she steal Nidaime’s sofa? Then here comes the idiotic twins showing off their boat and badmouthing them. They really do know no shame. That is when Gyokuran blows her top and wants them to apologize now for being rude. However they won’t and continue their rude ways. Yaichirou loses his cool and transforms into a lion to attack them. The idiotic twins’ ship start shooting fireworks. Yajirou’s butt is on fire and is forced to crash land into their ship. It gets complicated when Nidaime drops by. Estranged father and son face off. This might get ugly. But Benten gets his permission to settle this. It seems Benten and Nidaime met before in London and they do not like each other the first time. Benten attacks but what’s this?! Benten losses?! Is this true?! Nidaime retrieves his sofa and leaves. Yasaburou and Akadama go look for fallen Benten. She is sitting in the river in shock and frustration. Akadama sits with her and tells her to get stronger. Yasaburou notes when he saw Benten charged at Nidaime, he started to feel sad because he knew she would lose.

Episode 6
Yodogawa is being accused of sexual harassment so his colleagues send him to research in the forest till this blows over. Talking to Yasaburou about this, he believes Friday Fellows are trying to get back at him because he actively tries to stop their tanuki hot pot. Yasaburou hears that Friday Fellows are gathering at Arima Onsen. He remembers soaking in the warm and nice baths here. Yasaburou is surprised Kaisei is here too (disguised as usual). She calls him stupid for liking someone who eats tanuki and wished Nidaime had just finished that b*tch off. She has been avoiding Nidaime since. He wonders about Benten’s thoughts on Nidaime but would not risk asking her directly. Speaking of her, he spots her in the crowd and tails her. Inside a complex, he sees his father but knows he is not him because of the different scent. Then he realizes this is where uncle Souun has been hiding. He still blames Souichirou for destroying his life prospects. It seems there is an opening in Friday Fellows after Yodogawa’s departure. Tonight they are taking a new member. Guess who? Yasaburou is appalled he would even eat his own tanuki kind. Souun decides to show him what hell is like and tosses him into that hell painting. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a strange place. He hides in Tenmaya’s stall as a demon because demons seeing him as human would want to boil him. He meets a friendly female demon who gladly shows him around. Taking him to an arena, demons love to watch deities who something come down to have sumo matches with them. Say, isn’t that Benten swinging her demon challengers?! It is! She comes down here once in a while to work out and gather some demon horns. Not even demons has a chance. As suggested, he goes to challenge her. He thought of surprising her by revealing his identity. This makes her happy but he still can’t beat her. He tosses him into the air and she soon follows. Well, say goodbye to this world. They’re going to fly back out. Can’t wait to get back to the mortal world, huh? Though, Benten is confident he could live here happily although he doesn’t really want to. On their way out, they pass through an eerie passage of eerie souls.

Episode 7
Back in reality, Benten brings Yasaburou to Jurojin’s train where the banquet will be held. She introduces him to the old guy and requests he joins them. Learning he just came back from hell, Jurojin shows him a painting of Ayameike’s hell painting. It seems only Benten can go back and forth effortlessly. As though she is scarier than hell itself. Yeah, I somewhat agree. They go soak in the bath and it seems Yodogawa is also with them. Something about tonight’s banquet is supposed to be reconciliation too. Souun is not pleased to see Yasaburou here so they pretend to get along. All eyes are now on Benten as she joins in. Wow. Such beautiful body. Oh wait. Nobody dares to look at her. As the banquet begins, Yasaburou sees Tenmaya working as Jurojin’s servant. Looks like he managed to get back on his good side. As they enjoy the banquet to welcome Souun, he then entertains everyone by showing some dragon stone. He gives it to Jurojin but he gives it to Benten. Yodogawa then gets up to make his protest speech but as the rest points out h has eaten lots of tanuki in the past so he isn’t one to say. Then there’s something about his love that needs to be forced upon others. Because of that, Jurojin has Tenmaya tie him up as he uses his rifle to shoot the daruma on his head as target practice. Before more bullets are fired, Yasaburou would like to speak to Yodogawa. In fact, he is here to dissolve his alliance his him as he is sick of him forcing his tanuki love on others. He only got close to him to be fed. Everyone cheers for his unique vision of love. But the real sh*t hits the fan when Benten suggests he should join Friday Fellows if he wants to taste tanuki that much. Benten uses the tea kettle to float the train. Jurojin is impressed and makes Yasaburou a member. However this doesn’t sit well with Souun. He protests about the hard work he had done only to be tossed aside by this change in plan. When asked why he wants to join this club so bad, it is to strike down the tanukis. He becomes so enraged that he transforms into a demon trying to strangle Yasaburou. Against Yasaburou’s words, Tenmaya shoots Souun. Yasaburou follows Souun’s blood trail and sees him dying beneath a tree. Souun says he should be happy as he has avenged his father’s death. Yasaburou tries to save him but all was in vain. Kaisei learns her father is gone and wants Yasaburou to let her be alone with him.

Episode 8
Everyone gathers at Souun’s funeral. Tousen explains how grandpa wanted to end the feud between the Shimogawa and Ebisugawa clans but Souun took the initiative to marry into the family and bring peace between the families. She is sad this happened. Yasaburou could only note mom doesn’t understand. Yajirou’s transformation is making progress although there is still room for improvement. Nevertheless mom is happy. Kureichirou and the idiotic twins want to make amends by letting Yaichirou spank their butts?! He won’t. Although he can never forgive Souun for what he has done, nothing good will come out of this. The important thing now is to how they’re going to live from now on. Will they live together in peace or feud? Both sides want to end the feud and so they make up and shake hands. They are tanukis after all. Yasaburou accompanies Akadama to Kiyomizu because he heard Benten is going out on a ‘date’ with Nidaime. Trying to spy? Indeed she is but the duo still somewhat hate each other. They may look amicable to each other but their words are still as sharp. Nidaime still considers himself greater than her and he tells her to stop becoming a tengu. She thinks he has fallen for her and just to admit it. If she is to listen to his advice, she would rather listen to a tanuki. Nidaime is irked when she asks why he came back to this country and town. Later Yaichirou talks to Yasaburou and hopes to reinstate his marriage to Kaisei. Of course he denies seeing he himself isn’t married to Gyokuran yet. Yaichirou argues he is trying to think about the family and all he could see Yasaburou is falling into a hot pot. At least he will have something to protect. Yasaburou chides him for trying to be like father in which he isn’t but learns this idea is from Yajirou. He knows he is planning to leave Kyoto. So he visits Yajirou at the well and tries to convince him to stay but he says they can’t be pampered forever. Because of that, Yasaburou has run away to the mountains for a week! He is camping there as Kaisei comes to talk to him. As usual it turns into a childish spat. Then they start talking about their declined marriage in which they both agree for once. But she starts crying that if he wants to see her so badly, she’ll show herself. It will be the reason why they will never be married. When Kaisei appears, Yasaburou returns to his tanuki form. Her secret: If he sees her, his transformation becomes undone.

Episode 9
The brothers see off Yajirou. He promises to come back after his journey is done since he has a place called home. Tousen didn’t see him off as she feared he would hold him back. Yaichirou talks to Yasaburou about Akadama refusing to be an observer for the upcoming Nise-emon election. So Yasaburou tries to persuade him but the stubborn old man has decided to let Benten take his place. Of course the tanukis won’t like this seeing Benten is one who eats tanukis. Yasaburou then comes up with an idea to get Nidaime instead since Benten won’t be able to do anything and that they have nothing to lose. Yaichirou disagrees as they shouldn’t get involved with a succession dispute among the tengus. But Yasaburou say worse comes to worst, he’ll take responsibility. For real? So the duo go see Nidaime. First, Yasaburou reports he found his rifle although he failed to get it back since Tenmaya disappeared ever since. Nidaime thanks him as he owes him for helping find lots of his furniture. Cue for them to ask him to be the observer. Nidaime learns Yaichirou wants to follow his father footsteps unlike himself who is trying to take a different path, away from becoming a tengu or cleaning up his father’s mess. He knows Yasaburou spied on him at Kiyomizu and dismisses he is cordial with her. So what’s the difference if he doesn’t hate her but loathe her? The tanukis go on their knees to beg. To their relief, Nidaime agrees. When all the tanukis gather, Yasaburou is shocked to see the idiotic twins enlightened! OMG! Is this real? No more the idiotic pests and Englishmen wannabe but some Buddha fearing worshippers? Wow. Things have really changed. The event starts with Yaichirou and Kureichirou making peace and the latter pledging his family will support the new Nise-emon. Suddenly Benten arrives! Time for your tanukis to know your place. She isn’t happy that she isn’t welcomed though she understands why because she is one who eats tanuki. Then she picks out Yasaburou and knows he is behind this. He can’t lie his way out. She knows. When he says he respects both Benten and Nidaime as tengus, she throws her pipe missing him by inches! And it will only get more explosive since Nidaime is here. Yasaburou remembers what grandma said about causing trouble to keep things fun. This might be too much to handle…

Episode 10
Benten takes her leave. Yasaburou hopes she would show mercy on this matter but she feels disappointed he didn’t understand a thing. She treated him kindly. The family receives a letter from Yajirou detailing about his journey. In light of the recent events, Yasaburou has run away from home and taking shelter in Ayameike’s home. Only his family knows where he is. Gyokuran visits him and they talk about Yaichirou becoming the next Nise-emon. Yasaburou thinks Yasaka just wants to retire and push all the duties to big brother. No tanukis would like to hold this post and Yaichirou must be crazy to really want it. After all, they’ve got the idiot blood running through their veins. Gyokuran also reports that Akadama has officially excommunicated him. Yasaburou thinks it won’t last long and will wait till things calm down. Later he is shocked when Benten waltzes in and every step she takes turns everything around her into ice! Asked why she is crying, it’s because it will be a shame that she’ll have to eat him. Poof! Thank goodness it’s just a dream. With the year-end coming, it also reminds them of Souichirou’s death anniversary since it would Friday Fellows’ annual tanuki hot pot. Yaichirou reminisces what father said to him about making enemies he must also make friends. His trump card will be his siblings since they have the same blood. For Souichirou, he didn’t have that luxury even if Souun was his younger brother. They didn’t trust each other. When someone of your own blood becomes your enemy, they become the ultimate enemy. Yaichirou attends a celebration party with the elders to celebrate his success as the next Nise-emon.

Yajirou arrives at Shikoku to visit the Kinchou clan. He meets a tanuki girl but she plays a trick on him, making him revert to his frog form. At first she is surprised especially for a tanuki to turn into a frog but then she remembers him since she has rode on his train before. She takes him to their underground hideout, a large area of parlour rooms lined up, to let him see her father the chief. They talk about Yaichirou succeeding as the next Nise-emon as well as Kureichirou’s return to Kyoto. Yasaburou is surprised when Kaisei comes to see him. Apparently she ran away too. She talks to him about Kureichirou acting weird lately. He is hardworking to a point the idiotic twins looked up to him. Well, things change in 10 years. He is now the head of the family. Recently Yaichirou came to talk about reinstating their marriage but Kureichirou was against it. Of course she is against it too but can’t help feel weird because their marriage would be perfect to further strengthen both their families. That is why she left a note to Kureichirou saying she eloped with Yasaburou! Man, things are going to be complicated seeing the duo who don’t really like each other eloped. Suddenly Kaisei is shot! Yasaburou tries to help her but gets shot too. Tenmaya brings out his cage, delighted with his catch.

Episode 11
Nidaime starts his observer role for the next Nise-emon election. Tousen gets a call that a fire occurred at the factory where Yashirou is working. He is alright but Kinkaku (he is a fireman now?) found a rifle hiding in the place. Yajirou is making his way back to Kyoto with a monk. They talk about that tanuki girl whose name is Seiran. She was named by Souichirou. Yasaburou has regained consciousness but pretends to be asleep as he hears Tenmaya talking to Jurojin how Kureichirou suggested a place where he could find a tanuki. He didn’t know he could find 2 of them. Also, Kureichirou was interested in buying his rifle. Tenmaya sold it to him but a fake. Benten just came out from hell. She sees both tanukis in the cage. She sheds a tear that she will have to eat him. Kinkaku interrupts the elections to show the rifle at the factory. He accuses Yasaburou of assassinating Souun, Yashirou hiding the evidence and Yaichirou feigning it all to become Nise-emon. When news arrive that Yasaburou has been captured, the other tanukis could do nothing. Yaichirou is upset they aren’t showing any gratitude for his brother who broke a limb to help the tanuki society out. He realizes this is a conspiracy to frame the Shimogawa family. He has had it with tradition and if Kureichirou wants to become the next Nise-emon, he can have it. Yaichirou transforms into a tiger and leaps to go rescue Yasaburou. Only Gyokuran follows him. Ginkaku is keeping watch Tousen and Yashirou at the factory. But he starts to panic when he realizes Kaisei isn’t in her room and left that note. Yasaburou is in a dream. There he talks to his dad. Yasaburou wouldn’t mind ending up in a pot but he doesn’t want to drag Kaisei into this. But dad tells him his time isn’t up yet as he has many things left to do. When Yasaburou wakes up, he sees Yodogawa in a poorly made tanuki superhero outfit trying to rescue him. Other Friday Fellows members try to stop him. Since Yasaka is troubled he won’t be able to go for his Hawaii vacation, Kinkaku suggests making Kureichirou the temporary Nise-emon. The elders see no problem and elect him. With the election over, Nidaime wants his gun back. However he inspects it and finds it to be fake. It’s just a toy. Kureichirou can’t explain himself about this. Yajirou now interrupts the meeting with his return with an urgent message. The monk reveals himself to be Kureichirou. So who is this guy then? It’s Souun?! Yaichirou and Gyokuran manage to free Yasaburou and Kaisei. Yodogawa struggles with Tenmaya to let them escape. However the train is now floating high in the sky. Yasaburou wrestles with Jurojin for the control.

Episode 12
As Benten tries to stop Yasaburou, he makes an interesting proposition to crash into the Nise-emon election! Once the place is in a mess, Yasaburou is shocked to see Souun alive. Souun is also shocked to learn Tenmaya shocked Kaisei. Jurojin will have all the tanukis here in his pot and orders Tenmaya to shoot. Souun struggles with Tenmaya, blaming him for ruining his plans. Suddenly a demon’s hand grabs Tenmaya back to hell, dragging Souun along with him. Could it be Benten’s plan? Then she confronts Nidaime who is sulking and depressed?! What happened?! Flashback shows Nidaime and Akadama’s fight was actually over Benten’s love. When Nidaime lost and went to look for her, she left a note with a big cross. Rejected. Frustrated? And now it’s time for the rematch between them. It’s more epic, more fiery, more explosive, more property damage! Have you seen Benten this mad?! Nidaime somewhat wins when he sets her hair on fire! But he can’t have the last laugh as his entire belongings is razed. Akadama’s wind and rain put it out. He thanks Yasaburou for a good job. As he confronts his son, Nidaime starts crying. He tells him to get stronger if he is frustrated. In the aftermath, Yasaburou visits Benten in her home. Her hair is cut short. She starts crying and wants him to pity her more. The idiotic twins are caged and properly straightened by Kureichirou who sends his regards to Yaichirou for becoming the Nise-emon as well as to apologize for Souun’s evil for returning to Kyoto as the fake Kureichirou to seize power from the shadows (although he didn’t count on the real Kureichirou to return). As New Year ushers in, Yaichirou is nervous as hell as he gets engaged to Gyokuran. Akadama gives his blessings and annuls Yasaburou’s excommunication. Yasaburou then visits Nidaime who praises him as a tanuki who thought through everything but yet has nothing on his mind. Yasaburou credits his idiot blood. He is sure he will become a great tanuki one day but as for himself, he still denies becoming a tengu. In the woods, Kaisei talks to Yasaburou to apologize for an old prank. They hear a creepy laughter which turns out to be Yasaburou’s grandma crying because she was lost. She meets Kaisei for the first time and wonders if they are married. Though she denies, Yasaburou says they’ll eventually be. They’re engaged. So he has accepted it? Grandma believes it will all work out. So Yasaburou doesn’t mind if her appearance will always change him back? Well, he’ll find a way. He has the idiot blood. They bring grandma home together.

Good Times Don’t Last Forever
So the whole damn problem was about an old love triangle? A lover’s spat? Wow. I didn’t really see that coming. I’m sure they aren’t back together. It is going to take some time nursing their broken and wounded hearts but then again, this series isn’t really about them, right? All Yasaburou wants to have is fun and probably that goes the same for the other tanukis. And what a great year (and second season) this has been, don’t you agree? Good and fun times may not last forever but at least they can try to make it last as long as possible. I’m sure as tanukis they will find new ways to enjoy themselves. That’s all they do, right? Eat, breed and have fun. Oh, one more thing. Did Friday Fellows get to have their year-end tanuki pot? If not, damn this year again they did not. Thank goodness no tanukis died during this season.

Personally, I find that this second season is as good, if not better than the first season. Probably I wasn’t putting much hope on the sequel seeing the long lapse of time and that I have forgotten a lot of stuffs. But surprisingly despite all that, the plots and stories this season are still fresh and interesting. One main reason is that the story is seamlessly divided into small plots or small adventures if I should call it. For example, when Benten ‘faced off’ with Nidaime at his home over his sofa, that was quickly over with and the next thing we know, the shogi tournament. That too didn’t last long and before you know it, the Gozan Festival tomfooleries followed by Yasaburou going to hell and him usurping Souun to become a Friday Fellows member. They might look separate but they are all inter-connected and related. Therefore the pacing of this season is good enough to retain viewers’ interest and intrigue in what is going to happen next.

There are also some satisfying developments from last season here like Yajirou finally making some progress in returning to his ordinary form instead of being doomed to be in his little green frog appearance forever. Also, Kaisei the so called master of concealing (she could have easily find herself a ninja job) finally reveals herself to Yasaburou and the reason why she never did. Glad to know she wasn’t an ugly tanuki. Okay I lied. Fans who watched the first season will know how she looked like. Only Yasaburou doesn’t. I thought she was going to forever hide in the shadows but looks like she really did come out of her shell, erm, fur. Yodogawa has turned into a full blown advocate to save tanuki lives although his actions can be seen as virtue signalling. His intentions are good but he sounds like he is no better than those who continue to eat tanukis since he is trying to really force his ideas down their throats.

Benten is still my favourite character aside being voiced by my favourite seiyuu. She still has this mysterious personality and also an aura that unconsciously warns us not to mess with her if we know what’s good for ourselves. So it came to me as a shocking surprise that Benten actually lost to Nidaime! Twice. I know it isn’t impossible but the thought of it was. It’s like saying to number one team in football losing to a team ranked at the bottom of FIFA’s standings. Unconceivable, right? But not impossible. The same here goes for Benten. She was someone dominating and invincible. Or maybe everyone was assuming something bad would happen to them if they earn her wrath but when was the last time you see her getting angry and blowing her top? Could she rain down meteors from the sky and cover the landscape with craters and fiery mess? I still don’t understand what is it that she really wants from it all (a question that bugged me last season). Maybe she just wanted someone to love? Yasaburou knows well for a long time he wasn’t the one.

Equalling Benten’s mysterious and dominating force, if not surpassing her is Nidaime. He also has a commanding presence and not to be taken lightly. As though his return is to put Benten in her place and prevent her from freely doing what she really wants. Like Benten, it is also hard to tell what he wants and thinks because of his English gentleman poker face. His dapper suit makes him feel so out of place in Japan. But then again, when you have tanukis and tengus living together with humans, that itself makes it seem a whole lot weird. Not too sure if his final fight with Benten has had him reconcile with his estranged father. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they might not be 100% on terms with each other but at least they are on tolerable terms. After all, they are still father and son.

It feels ironic for Yasaburou because I remember (actually I took a little effort to read back my old blog) in the previous season there was this premonition that he would be the next tanuki ending up in the pot. He almost became one here. A sense of déjà vu too because last season Friday Fellows captured 2 tanukis, Tousen and Yaichirou (although Yaichirou was only meant for the pot) and they were freed by Yasaburou. This time around, Yasaburou and Kaisei were nearly in danger of being tanuki meat and it is big brother who came to their rescue this time.

Kinkaku and Ginkaku are still funny and hilarious in their own way. They are so idiotic that it is hard to hate them. In that sense, they are ‘lovable’. In their gay-like voice, they make stupid accusations and act tough. They think they have the upper hand but ultimately fail. So when they actually turn into some righteous Buddha-fearing pair, it was one of those shockers this season had to offer. We’ve known them as long as we can remember as the idiotic pair and suddenly they have a change of heart? Wow. And we thought they would be influenced by Nidaime and become English brats but the season isn’t long enough to even see them play that out. And of course they had to go back to being the familiar idiots and receive their just desserts.

Souun continues to play the despicable villain in his bid to exact vengeance to the point of faking his own death. What started out as a spat with his brother over the love for the same woman now turning ugly into a full blown revenge story since Souun doesn’t even have Tousen in his mind this season while taking his revenge. If last season had him worried because Tousen was going to be in the pot, this season was almost the same since it was Kaisei. Each time he does this, a previous beloved gets involved. So people, remember crime doesn’t pay. My only grouse is that if Souun was impersonating as Kureichirou, shouldn’t the other tanukis be able to smell him? Sure, Kureichirou had been gone on a journey for a while but clearly they should recognize Souun’s. They were at his funeral, weren’t they? I don’t know if I should be in a dilemma because although he is not really dead, he is in hell. Which is pretty much like being dead. Yeah, he can fight Tenmaya all he wants there.

Artwork and animation are also maintained the same as seen in last season. This means this isn’t your typical conventional Japanese anime of bishoujo and bishonen designs as the characters still look as odd as they did. The backgrounds and sceneries are still bright and colourful and the hues rich and vibrant so I guess I’m not complaining.

Sometimes I have this feeling the reason why they make the sequel after many years later was that the producers suddenly realize that the originals seiyuus who voiced the characters may no longer be around! No, nobody died and had to be replaced. Touch wood. Thankfully all of them are still here and delightfully retained for this season. Viva Mamiko Noto!!! Of course with a few new seiyuus added to the cast such as Junji Majima as Nidaime (Ryuuji in Toradora) and Bin Shimada as Tenmaya (Ken in You’re Under Arrest series) and Hirofumi Nojima as Shoujirou (Akatsuki in Aria The Animation) while Yuuichi Nakamura as Kureichirou and Yoko Hikasa as Gyokuran were recognizable.

Maintaining the feel of the first season are the opening and ending themes. They are so similar and familiar in sound and visuals. Like Nasugamama Sawagumama by Milktub continues to sing it in the same fashion way like they did with the first season’s opener. Still a rock piece but feeling less like a football anthem. Though, it still can be one if you want it to be. The ending theme also follows the same pattern like in the first season. That is why Fhana’s Moon River brings back some of the memories of Que Sera Sera (ending theme for the first season in which she sang) and the ending credits also show Benten on her adventures.

Overall, a satisfying second season made even more enjoyable with some nostalgic effect. Highly recommended if you want some weird tanuki adventures in your life but not so much as to make you want to eat them. Interesting stories and characters make it a fun watch. Came at a right time where there are too many disappointing animes that don’t live up to standards. This series is one of those few with the right tonic to continue the ‘streak’ of saving anime and my run of having a good time watching animes. I know good times won’t last forever but you can’t end something if you keep on running. Once an idiot, always an idiot.

What a misleading title! At first I really thought Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou No Sho was going to be the sequel or at most the prequel to the Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu. Therefore when I was doing my research before the series aired, I was really confused to not find a single thing related to it. The synopsis was also different but it had witches and magic so I really thought this was some sort of prequel that tells of that Satella witch. Nope. Nothing. Could I be Googling it wrong? Even more confusing when I see the main character who has a head of a white tiger. Is this Guin Saga or something?! Man, I was really confused. After watching a couple of episodes into the series, then I realize that both series had nothing to do with each other. Nothing at all. Curse you for giving me a headache and lots of dead brain cells from overthinking! I guess now I understand why some magic spells are so close to each other. Some are just fake to trap you if you’re not careful…

Episode 1
As narrated, 500 years ago the Church waged war against the witches and burnt a Mooncaller witch named Sorena who was beloved by the people. Thus this made all the witches to rise up and fight back and in turn the Kingdom of Wenias hired mercenaries to subjugate them. Although the world knows about sorcery, they are unaware about magic. Apparently they are both different terms. A tiger dude is being hunted by bandits because he is a beastfallen, humans who are born with animal features believed to be instruments of witches’ sorcery. He is also being hunted by witches and is running away from one right now. Till he bumps and spills the soup of a witch girl. She is making a big deal out of it. Till the attack continues. However she easily despatches the witch. Tiger guy runs away faster upon realizing she is a witch. But she knows how to find him perhaps he is making soup? Revenge for spilling hers? He isn’t interested in talking to her until she mentions she can see his human face beneath that beast façade. She briefly explains how beastfallens were created by witches as armies. She could have answered more had not her stomach growl. If she could have some soup… She is looking for her comrade named Thirteen. He left on a journey to look for a book that was stolen. A book which could lead to the destruction of the world. It is the only book and has no copy. He left for so long and had not heard from him so she thought she better look for him too. She wants him to be his guard but he quickly denies because he hates witches. In fact he hates humans too because of his looks, every day has been hell for him.

She offers to turn him into human and to prove her sincerity, she will do up a contract. She will not kill him and will turn him into human once his service ends. She is not afraid and describes his pleasant traits (something his mom used to tell him). He rips the contract and does a blood oath like how mercenaries do. She introduces herself as Zero. However she doesn’t want to know his name and only call her manservants by name. She will call him Youhei (Mercenary). If her real name is found out, she will really make him her manservant. Youhei wakes up to more old dreams of his bloody life. He doesn’t like Zero using him as a body pillow. So warm and fuzzy… They begin their journey to the royal capital, Plasta where she believes Thirteen is looking for the book. She then demonstrates the difference between sorcery and magic. For the former, she draws circles and spews invocations to summon a little demon. For the latter, she uses sacrifices and power of words to draw forth demonic energy. She then busts a witch out of his hiding who was on Youhei’s tail last night. Albus is bent on killing Youhei to get stronger. However Zero is stronger as her magic easily cancels out his. She asks where he learnt magic. From a group of sorcerers of Zero whose holy book was The Grimoire of Zero. Guess what? She is the one who wrote that book! Yeah, I could guess from the name…

Episode 2
As narrated, the Sorcerers of Zero were formed to pursue peace for witches. As their influence grew, so does magic. They have withstood all resistance and witch hunts and even plunge the kingdom into civil war. Albus assumes Zero is on their side and has always thought a man wrote that book. He says the book is in their hideout, the Latette Village on the road to Formicum which he will gladly bring them there. Zero can’t tell him the book is stolen as she won’t know how badly he will react to it. As they take a break, Albus boasts how Sorena’s granddaughter joined the Sorcerers of Zero. Albus finds a ring in the spring and wears it but nothing happens. Maybe his magic is weak? They reach a village and want to stay for the night. The villagers assume they are mercenaries hunting witches. When a grandma is looking panic after losing her ring, before Albus could explain, they think he is a thief. They will not hear any reason and start rounding them up. Because they badmouth Sorena, this makes Albus mad and rebuts their thoughts that Sorena was the one who spread the plague and instead saved the people. As Albus has already given away their identity, the villagers are going to get violent so Youhei takes them and runs away. But the villagers won’t stop. They are going on a witch hunt.

In an abandoned hut, Zero believes that the probability of Sorena spreading plagues was extremely low. As a Mooncaller witch, they trade their sorcery for food and clothing. It would be suicidal for such witches to destroy such symbiotic relationship. As she was using sorcery during the height of the plague, perhaps that is where the misconception arise. Her actions led to anger like Albus. If taking out an entire village just for revenge of a woman is justified, so is witch hunting. Oh, here comes the party now. Instead of risking a fight, they run. Youhei doesn’t want Zero to use the slightest of her magic because it would be even more troublesome if the Church and Knights get on their tail. The villagers know the woods well so the trio are basically trapped. Surprisingly grandma guides them a way out. How did she find them? Using Youhei’s fur. Zero knows that grandma is a witch and has been hiding her powers. After Albus returns her ring, she mentions this was from Sorena. As her own daughter went against her wishes and married a human, Sorena gave the ring to her to do the same. She will have to live as a human and protect her husband and if her friends are witch hunted, she must pretend not to know them. It is sad that Sorena was burnt then and even Youhei admits that Sorena was a good witch. Grandma notes they were about to make the same mistake they did with Sorena and believes a day will come where humans and witches can live together in peace.

Episode 3
As narrated, beastfallens are usually born from human. The Church believes this happened because of a bad deed done in the past life. Despite being hated in society, their superior physical abilities make them highly valuable on the battlefield. At the same time their blood and heads fetch a high price among sorcerers. The trio are now outside the walls of Formicum. Youhei can get pass since he is a mercenary undertaking a mission to hunt witches. But what about those kids? Zero says they’re his sex slaves! And with that, they got into Formicum. Say, doesn’t this city’s name sound kinda dirty too… Before they go anywhere, Youhei wants Zero to get new clothes. She never thought of getting any since she isn’t aware of human etiquette. When Zero takes out a bunch of gems, Youhei tells her to hide it. She views him as a good man since he could have just taken it all. At the clothes shop, Zero strips naked to try on outfits until Youhei had to throw her into the changing room for decency. The shopkeeper is so happy to see loli tits? So happy that he wants her old clothes and smells it like a pervert… Now that they are looking for a place to stay, it is either full or only serves humans. You can’t blame humans for fearing beastfallens because sometimes they have this sudden impulse to eat humans. Like one happening right now. Youhei punches the bear dude away. The latter claims he doesn’t have that impulse and was just trying to scare a slave wandering in here. A wolf guy then comes to claim his slave. He lets them know of a pricey place that accepts beastfallens before leaving.

Late into the night, Youhei sneaks out but Zero knows about it and tails him. She gets angry and then even more when she gets drunk, blaming him that he was going to enjoy the night life without her. Wolf guy is also here. He smells Zero and wants to make a trade with Youhei. This witch for 3 of his witches. He claims he is hiding them from the Church. Youhei doesn’t accept since Zero is his employer. Wolf guy will be waiting if he changes his mind. Of course the duo can tell his slave girls aren’t witches and just normal humans. Later Youhei sneaks into his home to set them free but is caught red handed. After all that talking, it is decided that they duel and the winner gets all the women. Since Zero agrees as she believes Youhei will never lose, there you have it. Eventually Youhei wins and sets the slaves free. Youhei wonders if normal humans are treated like witches like those slaves. Zero says many humans have been burnt at the stakes during witch hunts. Only witches can tell witches apart. Next morning, Albus’ uproar wakes the duo up since he sees Zero sleeping on Youhei’s warm fur. Youhei isn’t surprised anymore since this always happens. And besides, Youhei belongs to Zero. At least to her.

Episode 4
Zero helps Youhei wash his back outside. A few kids peep in and Youhei roars to scare them off. It’s his way to teach them not to get close to beastfallen as lots of them were treated like monsters as kids and become those monsters when they grow up. So it’s like humans created monsters. Zero can see the soul inside him is still exceedingly human. In town, they see a couple kissing a public. Zero doesn’t know what a kiss is so Youhei blushingly explains it is a form of showing your love. Sorry, it’s not about putting your lips on a demon’s dick! Can’t blame Zero for not knowing since she was born and raised in a cave. As they leave Formicum, they see one those kids injured. Zero has Youhei treat her before they continue their journey to Latette. Youhei ignores Zero when she wants to try out kissing. When they fish, Albus’ magic is weak so Zero guides him by having him imagine the good food. His haul is now much better. Camping for the night, Albus asks about Youhei’s hard life. In return, he reveals his parents died a long time ago and was raised by his grandma. Mom was targeted by a witch hunt and killed while dad died trying to protect her. Albus doesn’t hate witches, just the idea that all witches are evil. As for Zero, she is unsure if she has ever seen or spoken to her own parents. All she knows that she has been spending her life in this cave studying and experimenting with magic. The only unfortunate thing is the food sucks. Zero offers to teach Youhei the basics of magic. That way she has a reason to stay with him. You mean like forever? Yeah. Because being with him is a lot fun. Aww, don’t make tiger boy blush. But he insists he won’t learn magic. He has his brute force and muscles. As they reach Latette, Youhei could smell something wrong. It isn’t burnt bread. Looks like everyone in town is dead and some corpses are burnt to a crisp.

Episode 5
The town isn’t burnt although some bodies are. Zero mentions a fire spell that only burns its target. From the way the victim dies, she can tell what spell is used and if they are amateur or pro witches. As there are some dead witches among them, Albus knows that this is the doing of rogue witches. They used to be allies under the Sorcerers of Zero but once they learnt magic, they turned evil. They are attacked by looters. Albus is mad and wants to kill them although he can’t bring himself to it. Youhei interrogates one of them and learns there was one tall guy who came walked in and killed other witches. He went towards the church. Inside, Albus shows the secret path to their hideout. The grimoire is gone. It could be stolen or taken away to the forbidden room. Searching there, Albus sees an old man barely alive. Before his last breath, he tells of a tall man passing by and disintegrating those who fought him. He believes that isn’t magic. He hopes Albus can gather the scattered brethren, reform the Sorcerers of Zero and lead them. When they leave, Zero senses something strange. It’s like the dead witches have their magic taken away from them. Albus knows only one man can do this. It is that tall guy, Thirteen. The moment he says that, a forced summoning has them falling through an abyss. Youhei is seemingly falling endlessly as he hears Zero’s voice. His body is already on the ground but he needs to snap out from his mind. Zero guides him to return to his consciousness. She mentions only 2 people she knows can use this forced summoning: Her master and Thirteen. The latter is before them. He mentions this spell is casted for anyone who mentions his name in the church. Albus calls him the traitor to all witches although he believes he only restored chaos. Flashback shows the king and his men visited a massacred villages. The Sorcerers of Zero popped up before them and want him to end the witch hunt or risk more victims and the rogue witches will keep pillaging. The king has no choice but to fight fire with fire and sends Thirteen to the fight. In exchange, the king will help him look for the grimoire. Instantly, Thirteen’s magic killed all the witches. Albus accuses Thirteen to be the king’s underling as he is helping in the witch hunt. Enough talking because Thirteen and Zero now face off with their magic to see who is stronger. Looks like they’re both pretty equal. Youhei and Albus need to do something instead of being useless they want to end up getting burnt in the crossfire.

Episode 6
Suddenly they both stop when the bell chimes. It’s time. For dinner. Can’t fight on an empty stomach. Seriously? Why does this remind me of that Road Runner and Coyote show? After having dinner inside the royal castle of Plasta, they get to the topic at hand. Zero left the cave since he was taking too long to find the grimoire. He became the Sorcerer of State as the most effective means. Though it hadn’t yielded any effective results. Unfortunately the person who stole it has started spreading its teachings and plunged the kingdom into chaos. When Albus argues about the Sorcerers of Zero being right because they protect others, Thirteen counters that with another question: Who are they protecting? They kill others too. Innocent ones sometimes. If they think they are the face of justice, this is the reason why there is war. The Sorcerers of Zero are hypocrites since those evil ones are merely banished and left to their own devices. As explained, there are currently 3 factions of sorcerers: The Sorcerers of Zero who wants to protect witches and coexist with humans; Rogue witches who want to do evil things; Sorcerers of the State who hunt down both groups. Thirteen is in this group. Thirteen sees Albus as having dangerous but potential power. He wants him to join him and is promised knowledge and power. Otherwise he will be burnt at the stake. Albus then learns the truth that the grimoire was stolen some time ago. Zero admits that she was robbed. By Albus’ master. He killed all the students in the cave. Only Zero and Thirteen were the survivors. When Albus remembers his assumption that Zero was his ally, the only thing left he could do is cry. Youhei asks why she wrote something so dangerous in the first place. Convenience. Ever wanted to light a fire without a flint or catch fish without net? She thought everyone would be happy with such magic. Long ago she wanted to go outside but was told it was a terrible world for witches. So she started writing new powers that could be wielded by anyone and the world would want and accept witches. She regrets doing so and should have heeded Thirteen’s warning to burn it right away. Zero will not return to the cave as instructed. Since this is her grimoire, it is her sin and responsibility to bear.

Youhei rests in his room when a mouse familiar wants him to follow him to someone. It is to Thirteen’s room. Thirteen wants to thank him for taking care of Zero and gives him a magic potion from an application of Zero’s method. It nullifies magic and this means if he pours it on himself, he will become human again. By doing this, Youhei doesn’t need a reason to protect Zero anymore. Is he sure about this? This is Thirteen’s way of telling him to run because he doesn’t know how scary Zero is. Despite Zero not interested in his head, has he ever thought how Zero offered sacrifices for her summoning? All sorcerers considers others besides themselves as tools to be used. Youhei is like a rare special animal, that’s why she treats him differently. So once he outlives his usefulness, he’s gone. It is evident that he is under her control because during their magic bout, Youhei protected her instead of following his beast instincts to flee. Youhei denies all this but Thirteen thanks him for bringing her this far and cannot help him anymore. He tells him to choose a right time and place to use the potion since they are at war. He will once he is home. As Youhei packs his stuffs to leave, Zero is outside his door, inviting him to some celebration but he gets suspicious of her and draws his sword. Zero immediately knew Thirteen had done something to him. Her scream has Youhei back to his senses. She is disappointed that he had doubts of her, the reason he was easily manipulated by Thirteen. She laments he didn’t trust her when they made that blood oath. That’s it. Get out of here. The contract is over. They have nothing to do with each other. Zero moans she shouldn’t have hired him.

Episode 7
Youhei wanders around town beating up beastfallens who misbehave. A tavern girl enlists his help in exchange for him to stay at her place. Youhei cooks well as he explains he plans to open a tavern once he turns back into a human. She believes in that dreams and hopes he could need a beautiful tavern girl like her. I guess his taste in beauty differs. Later that night as several drunk beastfallens patron and cause a ruckus at the tavern, her father is distraught although she believes Youhei can deal with them. Father didn’t like how she allowed Youhei to use their utensils but she reminds him about leaving a starving beast alone with her. Remember how mom was devoured by a beastfallen? Youhei heard it all and goes out to beat the crap out of them, pays for their portion and then leaves. Meanwhile Zero confronts Thirteen and she is mad that he influenced Youhei to leave her side. She is going to teach him a lesson and then leave this place. Not on his watch. Youhei is resting in the woods when that wolf guy comes looking for revenge. But he is not going to fight him and has employed witches to go after his head. Unfortunately the witches betray wolf guy and attack him. Youhei supposedly took a direct hit from an attack. However nothing happened to him. In fact Zero somehow experiences that blow and collapses before her due fight with Thirteen begins. He takes her to bed and comments she should never have left the cave. Youhei notices a fearful witch fleeing. He tries to interrogate her but when she calls him a monster, he starts to feel that beast urge to eat her. But Zero’s words that his soul is human made him come to his senses. Wolf guy pleads to save him but Youhei doesn’t give a damn. However wolf guy says he can’t die here because Sorena asked him to protect her granddaughter. Youhei wants to know if she has the Grimoire of Zero. Maybe. Not sure. But he is sure the guy she is with has it. Now we’re talking.

Episode 8
As Youhei patches up Holdem (wolf guy’s name), the latter explains he was born of human and a noble. He was caught sleeping with somebody’s wife so he fled for his life. In the forest, he met Sorena. Because she fed him, he wanted to serve her. She didn’t want a manservant so he suggests turning him into a beast. She wanted to leave him be but her granddaughter took a liking for him. Shortly, Sorena turned him into a beast. His reasoning was that all those who were after him would stop looking for him. What about witches? If you noticed, all those targeting beastfallens are low rate. The only people buying their heads are wives of nobles obsessed with demonic rituals. Which means Zero was never interested in Youhei’s head in the first place. Holdem came to live an easy life taking care of Sorena’s granddaughter. But after the plague hit, they wanted to bay for the witch’s blood. Holdem is ready to die and kill them to protect her but she doesn’t want him to sully her name. Instead, take her granddaughter and run as she will be willingly caught by them. Sorena’s daughter swore revenge and went her own way. Holdem was fooling around and recently was gathering information about Sorena’s granddaughter and that she might have joined the Sorcerers of Zero. Holdem believes that guy betrayed Sorena and burnt her at the stake. He has no proof but believes he was the one behind the plague to purposely make a misunderstanding with the villagers.

As the duo leave, they see commotion of people trying to head into Plasta. It seems there is going to be a witch burning ceremony today. They rush back and Youhei couldn’t believe that Thirteen is going to burn Albus at the stake (after numerous times, Albus rejected him). However Holdem recognizes Albus as Sorena’s granddaughter! So my suspicions were right that Albus wasn’t a boy… Youhei knows Thirteen is a manipulative guy since he is giving a sermon to the crowd how evil witches are. After he is done, Albus makes her speech for all the witches to strike Thirteen die after her death. The burning begins. Holdem can’t wait no longer and rushes to save her. At the same time Youhei distracts the crowd with his random bombings. With the chaos, Holden rescues Albus from the stake while Thirteen tries to reign Youhei in. However Thirteen tries to stop the guards from attacking Youhei because any attack directly on him will be diverted to Zero. This gives enough time for Youhei to escape via carriage with Holdem. A short chase from the guards but ultimately the horses won’t listen as they plunge down the ravine. Don’t worry. It will take more than that to kill a beastfallen. Thirteen feels the need to capture them quick but alive. He wants the assassins sent.

Episode 9
While camping, Albus says she does not have the grimoire with her and one of the Sorcerers of Zero must have taken it. The reason she was against joining Thirteen is because of his cruel methods of killing all rogue witches and Sorcerers of Zero. Youhei agrees with Thirteen’s ways because normal people can’t tell the difference anyway. Albus is sure she can convince the Sorcerers of Zero to take out the rogue witches and that guy who stole the grimoire. When Holdem says Albus cannot take that guy out, they explain all Sorcerers of Zero made a blood contract before joining. This means they cannot kill him and if they do, they die. When Youhei blames Zero for coming up with magic and without it this whole mess wouldn’t be there in the first place, Albus hits an idea. Since Zero can nullify magic, what if they make a huge circle covering the entire kingdom and if Zero denies that circle, magic should disappear. Then they could start again of spreading magic correctly. It is a great idea but they need Zero whom Albus has no idea where she is being held. They need some sort of her belonging if they are to trace her. Hmm… Aha! Her old clothes at Formicum! But first they have to escape those pesky assassins in which they successfully give them the slip. Youhei manages to get past the gates since he fakes his appetite for humans at this hour. They see the creepy shopkeeper worshipping Zero’s old clothes! Sorry to interrupt but we have business with it. Poor shopkeeper. He doesn’t want the money and is begging if they’re going to burn it, burn him with it! Somebody please shut him up… Albus uses her magic to locate Zero. In the top tower of Plasta’s royal palace. So while Youhei hurries his way there to rescue her, Albus and Holdem also make haste to draw magic circles around the kingdom. After drawing a couple of them, they are approached by members of Sorcerers of Zero. It seems that guy guided them here and they are looking forward to Albus’ leadership for a rebellion. But when Albus mentions her goal to seal magic, they consider her a traitor and will bring her to trial. Holdem tells her to surrender because they can draw the circles anytime but it won’t do any good if she’s dead. Albus and Holdem become their prisoners.

Episode 10
Once Youhei breaks into the top tower, Zero doesn’t want to be saved. He left her, remember? Plus, does he not realize this is one of Thirteen’s traps? Zero starts crying as she tells him about her feelings when he left her. The feelings she felt when Thirteen took him away from her. She knew he hated witches and so she let him go. Why did he come back? What does he want? She will give anything. Just don’t leave her again. When Youhei tries to tell Albus’ plan, they are forced summoned. Meanwhile Albus tries to tell his story but nobody believes her. At this point the Sorcerers of Zero have received instructions from that guy to strike down Thirteen. Holdem is taken to be killed but the old man frees him. Despite they have different approaches to end the war, their end goal is the same. They should do what is right. Youhei wakes up in the dungeons. Zero is imprisoned before his eyes and Thirteen standing before him. Youhei tries to tell of their plans to nullify magic in the kingdom. With Thirteen rejecting it, Zero reveals the truth that Thirteen’s plans aren’t to get the grimoire or end the war. Those are just stepping stones for his ultimate goal. Youhei is shocked to see Thirteen in possession of the Grimoire of Zero. Yup. It was never stolen in the first place. To erase the fear of witches from the people’s hearts, Thirteen must create evil witches, put them on display and then eradicate them. While spreading the grimoire, he became Sorcerer of the State to oppose witches. Therefore Thirteen and that guy are the same person!

Thirteen corrects them. He admits he did set the stage but all those wrongdoings were the witches decision and actions alone. He did not incite the Sorcerers of Zero to act. He just spread the framework but they decided to use it for evil to exact revenge for Sorena. Because of that he had to play the righteous Sorcerer of State as the people wished. He wished Zero had never left that cave while he was creating a new kingdom for her where magic is a noble art. When he told her magic would destroy the world but she insisted to create that dream, that’s why he took it upon himself to create that dream for her. So when the Sorcerers of Zero strike him down, they’ll be killing themselves too since he is that guy. Zero is not pleased he plans to kill all witches in her name. As for the plague, Thirteen didn’t start it. It was Sorena’s experiment to save people gone wrong. As for killing his comrades in the caves, he sees them as mindless except for Zero. He was the one who suggested to take Zero out but they were afraid of her and were intent on leaving her alone forever. Youhei is upset he never gave her a choice. He made her lonely. He thinks he knows Zero better compared to Youhei who only spent a few days with her. But there is no way he could ever understand her since he is greedy, arrogant and selfish. Thirteen tries to petrify Youhei as he throws the potion at him. He dodges and it explodes upon contact with Zero’s cell. Now that she is free, she challenges Thirteen to a magic duel. She is going to remind him the difference in their numerical naming.

Episode 11
Albus once again tries to have the Sorcerers of Zero listen to her. However she is asked about her whereabouts during Latette’s attack. No reply. Zero and Thirteen begin their epic chanting. It seems Zero is stronger and her magic is about to kill Thirteen. Youhei tries to stop her but since she isn’t listening, he protects Thirteen. Unaware that he still has that protective magic on him, Zero takes full brunt of her own magic. Thirteen explains to him about it as he reminisces the old days from the cave where he was entrusted to take care of Zero who was very curious about the outside sky. Suddenly Zero wakes up! She explains that she didn’t go all out in her magic and thus only damaged lightly her skin. The trick was not to see who was the strongest but who created the craft in the first place. You see, Zero had purposely written errors in the Grimoire of Zero as a way to defend herself. Lots of them. Therefore nobody can beat her in terms of using its magic. Zero will continue her mission to seal magic from Wenias. What will Thirteen do? His initial goal was to take over the kingdom for her. But that’s not what she wanted. In that case he no longer has any interests in it and will follow Zero. Holdem fakes the Knights are coming when he is the only one sneaking into the camp to rescue Albus. They make a run for it but some of the Sorcerers of Zero are hot on their tail. Thirteen shows a special necklace he gave everyone who joined Sorcerers of Zero so he can watch their movements. Looks like Albus is going to be dead meat if they don’t do anything. Zero puts her mission now to rescue and reunite with Sorena’s granddaughter. Just in time to save Albus from being zapped by those sorcerers. Albus and Holdem are confused with Thirteen on their side so they explain. However Holdem is still mad and punches him. In any case, Thirteen is not responsible for that plague since it was an amateur’s witch experiment gone wrong. Still, he is indirectly responsible for Sorena’s death. All he could say is sorry and sometimes he has regrets whether he could have saved her. Not enough for you, Albus? Remember, you can’t kill him because of the contract binding to him. But Thirteen did a service and voids that contract. Now she can kill him and he will not refuse death. However he wants a chance to make things right.

Episode 12
Thirteen further explains that Sorena’s sorcery would have saved the villagers but that would make them distrust her. However as a wise witch, she knew her death would trigger a war so why did she willingly get burnt at the stake? Did she really want a war? There must be a greater plan. Hate to break this up but let’s finish drawing the magic circles around the kingdom. So they split up and complete their task. Everyone meets back at the centre. All but Albus. She’s running late… At the same time, the witches are attacking all over the kingdom in search for Thirteen. How can Wenias hand over somebody they don’t have? I guess it’s time for the kingdom to wipe out the witches too. Get ready for a bloody fight. Some Sorcerers of Zero have encircled our heroes. They’re unleashing beasts to fight them as Youhei and Holdem try to fend them off while Zero and Thirteen prepare their spell. And now the entire giant wild boar party is here. Oh boy. Luckily like in a true late entrance fashion, Albus returns. Her magic is needed to help complete the spell but it still requires a sacrifice. Zero wants Youhei to be it but assures it won’t kill him. Since asking nicely won’t do, she orders him. That’s more like it? Youhei becomes possessed by a summoned demon as magic all over the kingdom is nullified. In the aftermath, Albus declares she will become the leader of witches and turn Wenias into a kingdom where humans and witches can live in harmony. Thirteen realizes Sorena’s death was for this outcome.

Youhei wakes up 3 days later from his slumber. With Zero getting back her grimoire, is it time for Youhei to turn back into a human? Not quite. During the summoning process, his human soul fused with the beast. And with her magic power quite depleted, it will take some time. Hey, they didn’t set a time limit, right? So you mean he has got to continue be his mercenary? Is she travelling again? Yes. As magic has spread outside the kingdom, it is her responsibility to eradicate them all. Shortly, Albus leads a festival to celebrate peace between humans and witches. She burns Thirteen at the stake as the last death. Though, it was just for symbolic purpose and Thirteen didn’t actually die. Yeah, it was all for show. As magic will continue to grow, Albus wants Thirteen to be around when that happens. Thirteen will return to the forest so he warns Youhei one last time that if Zero comes to hate this world, he will not hesitate to destroy it. Wenias subsequently developed a magic education programme to deal with any magic related problems, hence the first state sorcerer programme was born. Youhei and Zero bid farewell to the rest before they set off on their journey. Youhei shakes Albus’ hand but she pecks him on the cheek! Holdem is going to kill him! Zero also wants a kiss but Youhei denies her. He thought she is in love with Thirteen. Then she drops another bombshell: Thirteen is her brother! Oh well… Zero wants Youhei to become her manservant and to reveal his name. He won’t. Being her mercenary is enough. She notes it is a good thing he is a beastfallen because if he was human, he would have fallen for her beauty. And if she was a human, she would have been dead by now or feared him. At least it gives Youhei a reason not to be sad as a beastfallen.

Beast Saga: Zero No Tsukaima
Just a thought. Could Zero and Youhei be in love with each other since they continue to be in each other’s service and travel in each other’s company? I know the thought that they are employer and mercenary covers it up but perhaps I’m thinking too much too. Uh huh. Besides, it would look like a very odd beastiality and lolicon romance if the duo really end up as a couple. At least with them continuing the journey gives them a reason to exist. No more wasting time and languishing around in some cave and no more running away from crazy witches who are out for animal heads. They can now have proper stories to tell from their future adventures that awaits.

The plot might overall be ordinary as it is a simple quest gone wrong with its twists and turns. Personally I still find it interesting but can’t help be confused while I was in the midst of watching it. What I mean is that for example, when that guy, the head of the Sorcerers of Zero was first mentioned, I had this thinking that he was Thirteen. There was no proof whatsoever but my guts tell me they are the same person. Then they played it out as though they were different persons. Okay. Time to reconcile the differences. I accept they are both different people. And then finally it actually turns out they are both the same person!

The small cast of characters help make the series interesting too although there is nothing really that great about them, there is nothing about them that you would make you want to hate them. I know some anime series have characters that are purposely created to be hated but I’m not here to talk about that. With the rising tensions and developments in the story, you can’t help wonder and anticipate what they will do next and root for them. Is it because they have a big furry and fuzzy creature on their side? Now you wonder the importance of animal mascots in a show.

So for Youhei, he is just an ordinary mercenary. Okay, not so ordinary if he wasn’t a beastfallen. He has his own set of principles and codes he lives by (no killing even if it is a baddie) and has a few flaws (this mercenary job and on the run from witches his whole life makes it hard for him to place his trust in others). In this sense he is like any imperfect main character. Nothing so much to like about him but at the same time you can’t really hate him. Like I said in my previous paragraph, could Youhei be likeable just because he has a physical appearance of an animal? Feline lovers rejoice? Would he be less likeable had he been human? Maybe this is one reason why I support Youhei. Well, you don’t often have a white tiger as your main character.

I also believe that Youhei doesn’t really want to be turned back into human. At least not for the time being. He might seem he made a deal with Zero to be changed back or even accepted a fake potion from Thirteen, but it isn’t that end goal he really wants to achieve it. Would life be better as human? Would things change? I mean his childhood was already ruined when he was born this way, half his younger days are gone and spent running away from those hunting him. After he transforms back into human, what next? I know he said something about opening a bar but seriously? That wasn’t just whimsical talking? Maybe. Therefore I believe Youhei accepting Zero’s proposal to be her bodyguard is more of to give his life a meaning. A meaning to his existence.

Zero has noble intentions and only wants the best for the world. However being secluded for a long time, she is socially inept and this is partly a reason why there is a small barrier and trust issues with Youhei. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that she has this poker face and the way she talks has this monotonous feel to it. Furthermore, you have to remember that she is a witch and she must be careful what she has to say and can or cannot reveal. So depending from which side you are looking at, Zero could be a liar or just someone who picks the wrong words for example when she says the Grimoire of Zero is stolen. Technically it is. And isn’t. Also, she could have also said Thirteen had the grimoire all along and save the confusion but I know this is for the plot twist. But she sounded like she made that statement sound like they are both separate matters when they are in fact the same and related. After all, we humans love to assume and jump to conclusions and quickly judge others so it is not entirely her fault. And the final revelation that Thirteen is her brother? Wow. It’s like this witch has lots of secrets… Keep ‘em coming…

Not really sure about witches and poker faces because Thirteen too has this dead looks on his face. Heh. At least Zero can smile sometimes. Because of that, it is hard to tell what Thirteen is thinking. Is he friend or foe? Of course for plot purposes he sounds like the big bad crazy villain out to kill all witches by deceiving everyone for the sake of the kingdom which is ultimately for the sake of Zero. With the turn of the events he defects to her side and could it be in the bigger picture he was just playing the villain? Or is he just greatly misunderstood because of his poker face feature as well?

Albus brings a bit of life between the monotonous interaction between Zero and Youhei. Though sometimes I feel that Albus is a bit of a useless character. In her bid to become strong and live up to her grandma’s legacy and name, it caused a lot of problems for the group. Not to mention she got imprisoned, almost got burnt at the stake and then getting captured again by her own people. She does have her roles but it is often overshadowed by Zero and Youhei. Luckily she owns it up in the end by living up to her grandma’s legacy to lead a new peace between both sides in the kingdom. With Holdem joining the group, I suppose he is supposed to be the comic relief. Not in an idiotic sense but his carefree attitude in a way makes him a bit ‘cooler’ than serious Youhei who has to act tough simply because it would be just plain weird to see a huge tiger acting all emo and sensitive. Really.

The action bits are just average and it isn’t something that you should pin your hopes on for. Because like for Youhei, he just uses his brute force and his big size to get things done. Either he is that strong or many of the witches he fought are just low level ones because their magic feels so weak. I mean if you compare it to the likes of Thirteen, it pales in comparison. He too can’t compare to Zero although she mostly nullifies the magic.

Art and animation are okay, nothing too fancy. Even if it is a fantasy setting, the designs of the buildings and architectural structures take after European medieval times. But the series spends half its time in the forest or outside town thus the background sceneries would be just the standard trees and forests. Yeah, what was I expecting? Magical enchanting forests with fairies and pixies? Animated by White Fox, another reason why I was confused about this series at first was because the same studio also animated Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu. And so I thought it was a sequel or prequel. Definitely misleading.

Something about the opening theme that feels like it isn’t really befitting this series. Misha Na Watashi by Tapimiru isn’t actually all that bad. However this rock piece has this lively and sparkling feel to it. Considering that this fantasy adventure series is a bit dark and grim of a nature, hearing this piece somewhat makes it feel out of place. If you’re talking about action animes like One Piece or Naruto, this song would definitely fit better with those titles. The same goes for the ending theme, Hajimari No Shirushi by Chima. Again this isn’t a bad song as per se but this slow ballad doesn’t feel like it fits with the genre of this show. It is one of those kind of songs you want to lie down outside on the grass on a sunshiny day and let the breeze blow through as you close your eyes and dream about all the nice things in life. Really. This song is that calming. So if you’re Zero, this song makes it a perfect lullaby to sleep on Youhei’s warm fur. Purr-fect!

Voice acting is also okay, nothing special. I only recognized Takehito Koyasu as Thirteen. As for the rest of the cast, they are Tsuyoshi Koyama as Youhei (Kurou in Utawarerumono), Yumiri Hanamori as Zero (Hanako in Anne Happy, Koyori in Shakunetsu No Takkyuu Musume), You Taichi as Albus (Anzu in Prison School, Kenya in Boke Dake Ga Inai Machi), Masayuki Katou as Holdem (Demiurge in Overlord, Kiyomasa in Deadman Wonderland) and Yoshiko Sakakibara as Sorena (Haman Karn in Mobile Suit Gundam series).

Overall, this is an interesting and enjoyable adventure fantasy series. Just too bad that it might be confusing to fans of the Re: Zero one and to a certain point, Guin Saga (though, I haven’t watch this one at this point yet). So it clearly goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover or in this case, an anime by its title. That is why I suppose they told us in the anime that there is a distinct difference between sorcery and magic although we have used the terms interchangeably like forever. So the difference is just whether you draw circles? Oh… I can’t even draw a perfect circle… Oh well. Back to square one. Pun intended…

Fukumenkei Noise

October 7, 2017

What? So soon? In the previous season we had a rock band romance in the name of Fuuka. Once that ended, now we have another rock band romance, Fukumenkei Noise. But unlike the former, it isn’t about finding new love. It is more of finding that lost love. You know, young kids who are supposed to be playing with toys and dolls, these ones start liking each other. Puppy love, I guess. And then one of them had to suddenly move far away without a word of goodbye and their only hope ever to find each other again is through music. Imagine singing the same piece of song every day for the next 6 years just for this promise. Yeah, I think fate got fed up of hearing that atrocious singing and decided to just let them reunite. Oh, did I mention how things can tremendously change in 6 years?

Episode 1
It is the start of a new school term. Students gather in the hall for a performance from the light music club. When they start playing, Nino Arisugawa starts singing along. When the band’s guitarist, Kanade “Yuzu” Yuzuriha spots her, he stops everything and runs away. Just like that? Concert ruined. Nino starts chasing him down, glad that her voice reached him. She is glad to have finally found him because every day for the past 6 years she has been singing that same melody that he wrote before disappearing in hopes of reuniting again. And she sure is excited to see him once more that she starts singing and then cries. But the feeling isn’t mutual for him. He doesn’t want Alice (the nickname he calls her) to talk to him again as his bandmates pull him away to apologize to the crowd. They wonder if that was the song he wrote but he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. The band has got bigger problems to deal with like the club being shut down and their upcoming concert. Funny how fate is because Yuzu and Nino end up in the same class sitting next to each other! She thought he is a year older. Maybe he got held back a year. Later she hears him playing the piano and sings along. However he doesn’t stop and continues playing. It’s like he is trying to finish the song he wrote 6 years ago. Due to this, the band’s lead vocalist, Miou Suguri gets jealous and went ‘missing’. The band’s leader and bassist, Yoshito “Haruyoshi” Haruno has no choice but to make Nino as the replacement. Momo Sasaki feels weird seeing Yuzu trying to complete his composition. Like as though he is taking lightly the light music club. Is that a pun? But Yuzu wants him to just come see their concert. Nino is able to memorize the lyrics after just hearing them once. Is it because it belongs to Yuzu? Currently the chorus club is on stage performing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This startles Nino because she hates this song. Why do I have this feeling of blaming BanG Dream for this? Flashback reveals she was friends with Momo who was also her neighbour. One day he suddenly moved away without saying anything. She was so sad. Because of that, Nino starts singing like as though she is on drugs. The band tries hard to keep up with her. All the while she is singing, she kept thinking how her voice is forever Momo’s. Suddenly she stops singing. Did she forget the lyrics? She thought she heard Momo’s voice.

Episode 2
Nino used to spend a lot of time with Momo. They look like a happy couple. And they love singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star so much! Till the class bully tells he how annoying her voice is. Despite Momo standing up for her, she still feels bad about it. Till Momo had to tell her to use that song as a guide to find each other if ever a day comes when they part. That day came soon enough and soon she became devastated and stopped singing. The bully even teased how glad he is Momo moved away since he won’t hear her annoying voice anymore. Soon Nino had a nervous breakdown. Really, she goes crazy screaming Momo’s name like as though life has become unbearable, hard to breathe without him (thus wearing that face mask?). She wanted to scream it all out at the beach and accidentally runs over Yuzu’s composition. Shouldn’t he be writing on paper instead on sand? She starts singing it and finds it easier to breathe again. Yuzu is impressed by her voice and has found the voice he wants. He tells her he is writing a song and if she is interested, she can always come here every Wednesday to help. She takes up this offer believing singing will help her find Momo. Yuzu later explains he wrote this song himself to sing it but can’t. Because if he does, he will melt away? Is he trolling her?

One day, Nino’s mom gave to her a letter from Momo she had been holding. She must have wanted to save her the trauma. Because true enough another mental breakdown when she reads it. Momo wrote how they’ll never see each other again. As she cries her heart out, Yuzu had no choice but to hug her and sing. It calmed her down. She wanted to quit singing but he told her not to give up. If she feels like screaming, just sing his song. And if she ends up going far away, he’ll go find her. Nino is now subjected to taunting over her new ‘boyfriend’. But she shuts them up when she starts singing. They’re enthralled by her voice? A week later, Yuzu left his final score before ‘disappearing’. 6 years later of singing every day, Momo didn’t show up and she thinks she was just imagining things. She feels lost that her voice hasn’t reached him. Haruyoshi confronts Miou who wants out. She is done pretending to be Alice as the real one is here. He keeps telling her to give up on Yuzu and be his girlfriend instead. She laughs at this joke and now feels better. Was it supposed to be funny? Yuzu talks to depressed Nino who is on the verge of giving up. He says he will write more songs for her to sing so she can sing without worrying about anything. Despite telling her to be positive that she will eventually see Momo, in his heart he hopes that will never come true.

Episode 3
Momo tells his Tsukika Kuze he saw Nino but doesn’t plan to speak to her or see her (he is in some special class in another building, thus they can’t see each other anyway). The reason being if he does, he won’t be able to write music anymore. Miou tells her bandmates she is quitting as she blames Yuzu for writing less and less songs. But the moment he met Alice, he started writing perfectly again. If he thinks he wants her to keep this up while knowing she is not good enough, then sorry. In bad timing, Nino comes in. Miou tells her straight she sucks at singing. Nino bugs her for more details. Miou says she isn’t bad but isn’t good either. She is lacking. Nino wants to know what it is because she wants her voice to reach more than just Momo but the world. After Nino tells her story, Miou teaches her a little of the basics. Nino realizes she sucks in holding down a note. She becomes Miou’s disciple to learn more. At least she got her confidence back to a point she can call Yuzu’s name in some strange melodious voice. It’s pretty embarrassing to him, though. Back home, Nino sees a new song on TV. She is surprised to see the name of Momo Kiryuu as the composer. Kiryuu is Momo’s mom’s maiden name. She heads down to the recording company wanting to see him. Of course no receptionist is going to allow her in like that. Noticing a poster for a vocalist audition produced by him, she decides to enter to see him. Meanwhile Yuzu and his bandmates listen to what their producer, Michiru “Yana” Yanai has to say. He is impressed by Nino’s voice (ironically Miou recommended her) and wants her to be the lead vocalist. However Yuzu opposes and storms out. The rest are confused because they thought he put this band together for her in the first place. As Momo sends in her audition tape and prays to get in, Momo is overflowing writing songs.

Nino tells Yuzu about this Momo Kiryuu guy. She isn’t sure if he is the Momo she knows and has entered the audition to find out. Yuzu is heart-broken upon hearing she would sing Momo’s song if accepted. Then they overhear Haruyoshi talking to Ayumi “Kuro” Kurose (band’s drummer) Nino at fault for Yuzu losing his ability to sing. Had he not sing for her then, he might have recovered. Nino is in shock and overflowing with guilt. She hopes it is a lie but Yuzu demonstrates. As he tries to sing, not a single voice comes out. He didn’t want her to sing back then just to see that face. He wanted her to sing forever. All she could do is sing for him as Yuzu narrates he was hospitalized for a throat disease 6 years ago. He used to like singing and writing songs and knew he wouldn’t be able to sing after being hospitalized. So he often snuck out on Wednesdays to vent his frustrations by writing on the beach. Till he heard her sing. The day he went ‘missing’ was when he was to transfer to another hospital. He snuck out one last time to write it for her. He wants her to keep singing but it seems Nino won’t now. Despite the turn of events, Yuzu is glad one of his dreams came true after the truth came to light: She sang only for him. Meanwhile Momo is not pleased Tsukika passed Nino for the audition. Did she know it was her? She did but rather because of something else. Despite the bad quality of the recording, she had a voice that was far more memorable than anyone else. Was it because it suck? Just kidding.

Episode 4
A year ago when the current popular band, In No Hurry was formed, they are actually Yuzu and his bandmates dressed up. And Yuzu was cross-dressing as its lead vocalist, Alice! Miou was the one doing the real singing as Yuzu was lip synching. No wonder they wore all those face masks to cover up. Nino continues to be depressed that she isn’t singing. So much so it bothers Miou. She too has took the auditions since being Alice was never her goal from the start. She bugs Yuzu about Nino. It will be for nothing if the band breaks up now, the reason Miou left it to keep it afloat. Of course he won’t let it happen. He just finished writing his new song and lets Nino hear it. Instantly she starts singing to its tune. As she gets her confidence back, he asks if she is free on 29th May. At the same time Nino gets a call from the audition saying she has been picked for the final screen which falls on, wait for it, 29th May. When she asks if she could see Momo Kiryuu, she is being told the message left by him in his words, he will not be attending because “your singing voice isn’t good enough to be a guide”. She realizes this is the real Momo. Back to gloomy again. She doesn’t want to go to the audition anymore so Yuzu blows his chance of stealing her from Momo by giving her encouraging words like Momo will still listen if she goes. Still not confident and scared? Time for reverse psychology. He accuses her of being a coward when it comes to Momo. Don’t expect things to stay the same after 6 years. It opened her eyes but they still end up arguing. Nino realizes more about this change when she learns Momo’s house will now be turned into a parking lot. Man, it really took 6 years? Momo may have flipped what he said 6 years ago but that means he still remembers that promise. If her voice isn’t good enough as a guide now, it just has to become one good enough to do so and make him look her way. Yuzu lets everyone hear his new song. They’re blown away. They’re supposed to release it on 29th May. Nino heads to the place as Yuzu requested. She didn’t expect this to be a recording studio. At this point she starts noticing Yuzu’s songs have this familiar vibe to In No Hurry. Then she hears their trademark song from behind a room. Upon opening the door, she sees In No Hurry in the flesh playing before being shocked by Yuzu taking off his wig. He tells her to use In No Hurry as a platform to let her voice reach Momo who is already a pro. This band is the best place for her to be and wants her to become In No Hurry’s vocalist. She is going to perform as Alice and live with them on 29th May.

Episode 5
3 years ago, Tsukika found Momo singing in the streets. He needs money to clear his parents’ debts (the reason they moved away). Although he is tone deaf, he wrote good songs. She had him work for her music label company and wants him to write a song for an idol group, Baby by tomorrow. They already had 2 singles that bombed and if the next one fails, they will disband. As long as Momo can make money, he’ll write any song. Also he requests any press publicity. Tsukika could tell he was writing the songs for somebody but Momo is sure he won’t see her again. Nino seems to be atrocious during practice. Then they try out their costumes. With all the heavy padding and clothes, no wonder you can’t tell the original identity. Later Nino tells Miou about Momo, the guy she loves. Since Miou qualified for the final screening, perhaps she could check out if this Momo is real? Like stomach birthmark and butt burn? Seriously? Momo continues to write songs. Again Tsukika can tell he has written them all for Nino. He laments he was supposed to write only for her but used them all for work. He fears he can’t remember how to write songs for her anymore. It couldn’t be more insulting when mom calls asking for money. Not only ungrateful, she mocks him being tone deaf despite having such a talent. The last straw is when she mentions Nino’s name. He won’t have her say that name.

Apparently Nino also attends the audition since her performance would be later in the day. When it is her turn, she starts singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! The judges are puzzled. She doesn’t see Momo among the judges and slips a little message into the song by changing a bit of the lyrics. But that is when Momo who was well disguised as one of the judges got mad. He stands up and walks away. Nino is shocked to finally see the real Momo. But can calling him gain his attention? He tells her he has failed. Her songs can’t make him money. This makes her mad as she rants about their old promises, blah, blah, blah. Not listening. When she goes off, Yuzu is here to pick her up and he instantly knows she has met Momo when she suddenly hugs him and cries her heart out. But the show must go on, sad or not as he takes her to the studio. Can she pull it off? Well, her bandmates can tell she is going berserk singing like that mad woman high on drugs again but the fans might thing it is all part of the gig. Yeah, they love it! Luckily the band manages to keep up with her. Momo is shocked to see this dark side of Nino on TV. What kind of monster is this? Yuzu narrates his regret stopping her from going berserk that day. He didn’t want to see her smile like that.

Episode 6
In No Hurry is now the talk of the town. Nino can’t remember what she sang on stage but with the recent sudden developments, she is overcome with emotions. She then gets a call from Tsukika to meet. It seems she wants to give him Momo’s guitar. He was so badly shaken that he accidentally dropped his mug and scarred it. So he doesn’t want it anymore? She assures her only Momo figured out her identity as Alice. Doesn’t that make Tsukika too? She wants her to accept it as proof that her voice moved him. Nino then goes to tell Yuzu all about it. She feels so happy about it. The next time she sees Momo, she wants to show him even more of how she feels. Yuzu might not like it but he offers to teach playing the guitar. What’s this about Momo not liking what Tsukika did? Better than throwing the guitar away, right? With Nino as an amateur, she is starting to get the attention of her classmates. Looking pretty there. She is no longer the weirdo with headphones and face mask, eh? Later Nino goes to thank Tsukika for it. She gives her business card in case she wants anything or if there is message she wants to tell Momo. After all, they live together. Momo can’t help feel this pain in her heart. I suppose Yuzu is her best confidante as she tells him about it. She wonders if a boy and girl can live together without being romantic. That is what you call friends, right? Yuzu then says he doesn’t see her as a friend. This shocks her because she thinks he sees her as something lower! He quickly covers up it means they are roommates.

Miou tells Yuzu that she has passed the final screening. He congratulates her and also tells her his band is getting busy with the release of an upcoming album. This doesn’t sit well with her. She wanted to be alone at the beach but look who came to bug her? So as Miou and Nino talk, Nino wonders if she has feelings for Yuzu. Miou is tired of everything that has happened. She throws away her earrings Yuzu gave as birthday present into the sea. Why, Nino actually went to look for them! Miou tries to stop her and tells her she is the weird one. Especially singing the same song for 6 years. Nino knows that. Despite all the mockery and disdain, she has gotten used to it. At times she thought how pointless it was and pondered quitting. But you can only quit after you’ve gone as far as you can. Nino manages to find an earring and hands it to Miou. Miou remembers she promised Yuzu she’ll treasure it when he gave it to her. When Nino says the need of going to hospital to check up her chest pains, Miou points out it is jealousy. The look on Nino’s face is priceless. First time being jealous. One day in class as Nino waits for her daily morning guitar lessons from Yuzu who is currently running late, she falls asleep since she has a bit of a cold. Momo is passing by and stops by to take a look at her sleeping face.

Episode 7
Yuzu is absent from class. Nino feels something is off as there is no news from him. So she goes everywhere in school looking for him! Everyone must be thinking who this crazy b*tch is. In fact Yuzu is at the beach furiously writing songs. Mom discovered he had been secretly writing songs and became mad. She tore up his scores and scolded him about his promise never to get involved in music again. It is getting late and he has nowhere to go. Luckily Momo is passing by and invites him to his place. He can tell Yuzu ran away from home so he explains about his family matters especially mom abnormally afraid of letting him get involved in music so much so she checks his handphone and computer. Thus school and outside is the only place he can do music. Momo shows him his music making equipment. Yuzu is impressed and learns he writes songs for a girl but recently someone took her away and it made him angry. You don’t know how everything is right under their noses… Momo demonstrates a song he just wrote today. First thing Yuzu says? Doesn’t sound like it could make money! He lets Yuzu play his guitar. Just as Momo answers Tsukika’s call, Yuzu checks his handphone to see many missed calls from Nino! It’s like she’s stalking him! He then leaves the place to go meet up with her. It’s not a funny matter that Nino was worried sick about him. She asked his bandmates but they brush her off as nothing serious. But it is traumatic for Nino because she thought he had disappeared again like 6 years ago. When she wants to look at his face close up, he covers her eyes. He doesn’t want her to look at him like that.

Next day, Haruyoshi relays a shocking news to his friends. It seems that Kiryuu guy has created a new band called Silent Black Kitty. They are definitely In No Hurry’s direct rival because their debut album comes out the same day as theirs and they play the same alternative rock music like them. Despite all members wearing masks, Nino can instantly tell the bassist is Momo himself. If the vocalist sounds familiar, it is because Miou admitted it is her. Yana then calls to confirm In No Hurry has been invited to play at a prestigious concert, Rock Horizon. However Silent Black Kitty will be there too. This means a direct face off. All Nino could think is that Momo will be there. Later Nino and Miou talk and the former hopes she would not fall for Momo. It makes her laugh like mad. Good to know she is human, right? Oh Nino, your punch line of being born a human since day one is pretty hilarious too. Nino thinks that Miou’s voice made Momo look his way. That’s why she is going to practice and get better to make him look her way. Yuzu finds Momo up alone on the school’s rooftop. In addition to thanking him for the other day, he wants dating advice? He just tells him to confess it all now instead of bottling up and then wait till it all explode and something weird happens. Yuzu continues to teach Nino and she admires and respect him for that. He wants the next practice to be on the rooftop because he has something important to tell her. She waits and practise. She realizes she has gotten better in playing the guitar. No mistakes were made. As she sings confidently, all comes to a crashing halt when she shockingly sees Momo across. He too staring at her in shock. And when Yuzu comes into the scene and realizes this guy is the Momo whom Nino has always been talking about, that shock on his face too. Everybody in shock. Wow. Their first meeting with such expression.

Episode 8
Nino tells Momo to stay put as she rushes over. He must be a real turtle because when he takes his first flight of steps down, Nino reached him. She is hounding him with questions so he tells her to shut up and never speak to him again. Now that Momo and Yuzu know each other a little better, I guess their friendship is done. Since then, Nino acts a little panicky and even stalks Momo outside his classroom? Tsukika notices Momo is in a slump. As warned, it’s because he already met Nino. She finds that strange because he wanted to write songs for her. Maybe he should just tell her his feelings. So the next time they accidentally bump into each other, he cancels that gag order and wants to talk. First he apologizes for his treatment during the audition and also for suddenly disappearing. Then he confesses 6 years ago he liked her. This is Nino’s chance to tell him everything but words cannot come out. So she sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! He also follows suit. Then she tells him she also liked him. It was her first lie to him. They walk back to the station holding hands. With Nino all cheery in school the next day, Yuzu seeks ‘refuge’ in the infirmary. Since Haruyoshi comes to bug him, he tells about his broken heart. He thought one day Nino would fall for him but apparently she still likes her old flame. Haruyoshi thinks he is quite the man for managing to put that into words. One day if he grows taller to be a man, maybe his love will be realized. Nah, just joking. Yuzu vows to be Nino’s friend even if he is broken hearted, he won’t run away. He will protect her smile. During the recording session, Nino starts off well singing. But then she starts thinking too much about Momo till she cannot take it anymore and drops everything and runs away. Yuzu catches her to find out what’s wrong. She feels stupid for thinking Momo would still like her after 6 years. She tolerated his ‘abuses’ thinking he felt the same that he was at the same pace as her. She lied to him that he used to like him when she still loves him even now. Yuzu tells her to sing but Nino continues to break down screaming and crying. Only way to stop this madness? Yuzu kisses her.

Episode 9
It only gets worse. Yuzu refutes that was a western greeting and it makes her cry. Kuro comes to see if everything is okay. Nino tells Yuzu not to talk to her for a while. Indeed it feels weird that the duo in the same space aren’t talking and ignoring each other. When she finally lifts that ban, she tells him she wants to quit In No Hurry. She never noticed about his feelings and only took advantage of it. Thus if she is going to keep hurting him, it is better she quits. Yuzu laughs and counters with a sarcastic tone that she thinks he likes her. He brings her to Shibuya to let her see their recently recorded music video being played in public. He tells her she will always keep singing no matter what because her voice captivates others. Her voice is what’s precious to them. That is why back then he was afraid she would ruin her voice by screaming and did what he had to. They are friends. Nino finally smiles. When Nino sees Momo talking with Tsukika, she really believes she is the person he likes now. Momo is surprised Yuzu calls him to meet. It is to return the CDs he lent. Momo can further deduce who is who in In No Hurry as well as the reason why this band was formed (like he just read from the script?). He thought Yuzu would never see him again for he was the one who stole Nino’s voice. That is the only light he has and made him trudge through life. Once he took care of everything and if she is still singing, he planned to find her and sing together again. Yuzu doesn’t accept this. He still believes Nino’s voice belongs to him. He’ll turn the tables and they’ll settle this at Rock Horizon.

The only thing Nino can do now is to sing-cum-scream-cum-shout her way while jamming her guitar. Haruyoshi is watching her performance and her ‘passion’ reminds him of that zeal when he first saw a live rock performance. He praises her singing although Nino thinks her voice wasn’t good enough. Since it is the first time she was thinking of others while singing, it is probably why her voice reached him. He thinks she can use the guitar as a weapon. She is motivated to use this to regain the person who dumped her. Haruyoshi realizes that Nino is the true founder of In No Hurry. When Yuzu’s mom cut him off from music, he could breathe again after he sang for him. It’s because she is there that In No Hurry was born. On this week’s singles chart, In No Hurry comes in second and taking first place is Baby. Nino is not worried. After all, they were going to wait until they release their first album to take first spot. Nino is happy and thankful everyone gave her a place to sing. For that she will sing for them, more than anyone, stronger than anyone.

Episode 10
During In No Hurry’s interview, Nino answered the question about her favourite food: Chicken and onion skewers. So funny that it became viral! As Nino’s profile current stands as the band’s vocalist, Haruyoshi suggests making her the vocalist and guitarist. Everyone agrees but when Yana hears her play, he stops her. There isn’t anything bad but it feels like it is missing something. This won’t be good enough for Rock Horizon. Thus Haruyoshi suggests a training camp. The next time Nino and Momo bump into each other, she learns he is applying to transfer to another school. But when he asks if she intends to keep singing in that crappy band, she chides him not to insult In No Hurry. It is a place where she belongs. Their songs let her breathe. He challenges her to quit the band if she loses at Rock Horizon but she won’t participate in that. Then struggle as much as she wants. Have your screwed up concert. While practice during the training goes fine, Nino is a funny girl talking in a stiff voice and what’s with the bunch of cucumbers? She even asks a funny question for Yuzu: Does he have someone he likes (in her quest to know her bandmates better). Oops. Not funny. He hints there is from a long time ago and when he kissed her it wasn’t his first. He asks about her obsession with Momo. Perhaps it was his voice calling her name. So when he disappeared, she felt like she lost a part of herself. Momo’s words continue to bug her till she realizes what he meant about being screwed up. He didn’t mean the band but her going berserk and screwing it up for everyone. So during practice, Yuzu can tell something is wrong with her and stops her. What’s with her trying to get better? She worries about going berserk and troubling everyone so she’s trying to get better. He dismisses that kind of boring performance and should attack more with her emotion. Sing in your own words. Don’t blame her for what is to happen then… Because she changes the entire lyrics singing about Momo the boring idiot! Feel better? Later Nino still feels down thinking about Momo. He doesn’t like her anymore but yet she allows his words to control her. She tries to hide her crying but Yuzu tells her to just cry. Singing her own words made her feel like truly singing. She wants Yuzu to let her try writing lyrics for his new song.

Episode 11
In No Hurry’s album is now on sale. Yuzu tells his bandmates about Nino writing the lyrics. Of course he is QC because he knows and doesn’t want her to write about Momo. Nino realizes how tough and embarrassing it is trying to write lyrics. Momo has the bad luck to see his mom on the streets again. Same bad luck for Yuzu because mom has found out on his PC about the songs he has been writing. She believes he is still forcing that Alice girl to be part of it and wants him to set her free. She is adamant music kills people! But when Yuzu disagrees that music didn’t kill dad, she slaps him. That’s it. He runs away from home and stays at the studio. In No Hurry practises and when Nino starts singing the lyrics for the new song, Yuzu is shocked because the lyrics are totally about him. Yana approves of this. Later Yuzu asks why she wrote the song about him. She tried about others but realizes he is the closest to her and how similar their struggles are. She asks about his crush and he wants her to guess. No idea. At Rock Horizon, the Woodstock of the country, the stage is set for the ultimate battle of the bands. There are a few venues that could play a few bands simultaneously. Both sides of In No Hurry and Silent Black Kitty there are haters who are already posting hateful comments. At a crucial moment, Momo gets a threatening call from mom to move back with them or she’ll do something to Nino. He is forced to rush to Nino and hug her. Whispering into her ear, he doesn’t want it to be like 6 years ago. He says goodbye for real to her. Nino is close to breaking down. She wants to go to him to tell him about the lie and that she still loves him. At this crucial time when her band is up next? When her bandmates call to her, she remembers all that they have done for her. She decides to go on stage. Nino disregards the playlist and starts off with the new song. Yuzu feels conflicted since she is singing his song for Momo! She is going to sing not only to make Momo stay but make sure all the audiences can never leave! Flashback from Momo’s side shows how he really wanted to see Nino’s cute smile. So he came up with all the lame puns and I guess for a kid, it is funny. Because of that, Momo thinks he is a genius…

Episode 12
After the first song ends, Nino starts playing a familiar song. Yuzu can tell she is also going out of control and she’s dragging them in. The crowd now is totally ecstatic and new ones are driving into the small space to catch a glimpse of them. Yuzu then sees his mom in the sea of crowd. He becomes stunned that he drops his pick. Fortunately Nino is able to cover for his part! When Nino and Yuzu finally look at each other, he regains his composure and makes peace with his past. He knows music doesn’t kill people. Nino is going all out and screaming and singing. Yuzu feels like it is as though it is her last. He needs her voice to keep singing the song he writes. So he stops her distraction to take back control. He tells her to crush this as they sing their last song. In the aftermath, Nino is depressed and have not sung since. She laments her voice didn’t reach Momo. By that way, that guy has transferred out of school. She ponders of giving up on him as she hangs out at her usual spot on the beach. Yuzu talks to her. He says he will continue writing music. What will she do? So she runs to Tsukika’s office? It seems Momo is also gone from here. She sees a video of Silent Black Kitty in action at Rock Horizon. For one moment, Momo looked distracted. Tsukika tells her she was told he thought he heard Nino’s voice. Flashback after In No Hurry finished their last song, I’m not sure how Yuzu knew about Silent Black Kitty’s performance ended earlier than expected, so he tells her to go right now. Nino dashed off the stage while Yuzu can only blame his stupid self for allowing this. When she arrives at Momo’s camp, as told by Tsukika he is already gone. I don’t know where Nino is running to as she searches for him. She fears the repeat of the past. She runs out of steam and just sleeps on the grass? Apparently I don’t even know how Momo knew she was here and came back just to give her a kiss while she is a sleep? Yuzu saw that and chides him. Momo calls off the competition and tells him he is disappearing for real. Yuzu warns he will take Alice for real this time. The guys can only cry. Even more heartbreak for Yuzu when he hears Nino talking in her sleep she loves Momo. With renewed determination, Nino realizes she still can’t give up on Momo. She runs back to Yuzu to tell him she won’t run away anymore. Yuzu narrates they’re hiding their feelings. Their wish is only one. He hopes it will reach her.

The Voice
So basically they’re going to relive the next 6 years like that again? Or forever? Because if that is the case, it will be a never ending chase between Nino, Momo and Yuzu. Forever. Thank goodness this series ended! I don’t think I would have the stamina to keep up and follow whatever rock music they have to play, songs they have to write and voice they have sing in order just to reach the ones they love. Can this be said a tragic ending because nobody’s love got realized? Everything gets reset back to square one and the chase is still on? Heck, even that coyote caught that road runner once. And now they’re saying they’re going to keep continuing what they’re doing? No thanks. I’m outta here. If this unresolved ending was meant to stir some emotions because nobody ended up with anybody, well it didn’t work on me. I’m so glad the series had ended…

So basically we have an entire season of drama just because our main characters cannot be truly honest with their feelings upfront. Yuzu trying to be considerate to Nino so he basically hides it all. Momo trying to make money as an excuse to delay his reunion with Nino. And Nino is just too obsessed about Momo but he won’t give her a chance. And that single chance she had she blew it. Is it that hard? I guess so. I can’t say since I haven’t fall in love like that before :’(. So they’re all beating around the bush hoping that the other would realize something through music. I understand that perhaps music is their only way to communicate and convey their love but as you can see how this romance thingy dragged out and ended up so. Of course it’s for the TV plot and without it, everything would have been resolved in one episode. And you won’t have fated meetings and encounters that brought about stuffs that led to the characters to where they are.

For those who love characterization and development, I suppose this series is pretty decent albeit the main focus is on Nino, Yuzu and Momo. For Nino, sometimes she comes off as eccentric but at other times can sound and act like a retard and hence in a way makes her look annoying. With Momo constantly on her mind and singing the same song for the past 6 years, it really eats into her social skills. But in a way it makes her unique because what I like about her is her sometimes witty sarcastic deadpan humour. Because of her very honest upfront character (though the same can’t be said about her heart), the statements she says in that deadpan voice can sometimes be funny. Like how when she took over the role of Alice, she has to be padded extra in the chest area. Thus she quips how Yuzu had this sort of big breast fetish because you know, milk. Milk makes you grow taller. There are handful of such ‘quotes’ around worthy to be turned into memes. But I’m too lazy for that… I’m not sure if Nino is a genius because for her without a guitar background and then to learn and master it so quickly in time, doesn’t it feel unrealistic? I guess anything can happen when she goes berserk. Yeah, better than drugs. Please do stay away from that (because most rock stars do them).

Nino seems to have it ‘easy’ compared to Yuzu and Momo because these guys have their own family problems to deal with as an obstacle to their music. We have not seen the bigger picture so to label Yuzu’s mom as crazy might be premature. You can’t blame her for hating music because it is hinted Yuzu’s dad died in a way related to it and Yuzu almost met the same fate with his surgery 6 years ago. So Yuzu is a little hesitant in being honest upfront because of the rejection. It’s just amazing how he managed to fool everybody with his In No Hurry band for some time. Their music must be so captivating that no internet trolls bother to dox them. So awesome that nobody could tell the difference when Nino took over Miou as the band’s vocalist. Do they sound the same when singing? Sometimes I feel Yuzu is the most emotional insecure among the trio since he keeps his emotions, it feels like it will explode like a bomb later. Sometimes you can see his outburst especially when comments are made about his stature. Is this his running joke? So did his mom finally accept music? I think she was trying to find closure too. Otherwise, why would she attend Rock Horizon and then cry (assuming it was the good kind) when she hears her son awesomely jamming away.

Meanwhile I believe Momo is trying to be a good son and clear his parents’ debts so ironically he uses all the songs he ever wrote for Nino to make money but won’t let her come back into his life. Seeing how his parents are leeching off him, I can understand why he is trying to give her the cold shoulder and not get her involved in his personal life as much as possible. I figure to show that he has a funny side, the reason why his bad puns are his running joke. Nobody laughs at them except Nino. Or maybe it is the way Momo says it that she is laughing? I also don’t understand why Momo has to pander to his parents. I assume he is a filial son but the way he handles it from my point of view feels like he is holding it all back and this ticking time bomb might explode any time soon. Can he just disown them? I believe there are things that we do not know about so it’s not quite right to jump into conclusions to paint his parents as the bad guys although I am very sure they are.

Other supporting characters are just sufficient, doing their part to support the main characters and the direction of the plot. Like Haruyoshi and Kuro’s unwavering support for the band as well as Nino and Yuzu. Tsukika also supports and eases Momo’s life a little. It might look odd that Miou has gone over to a rival band but still maintains friendship with her old bandmates and especially Nino. I suppose that band and music thing are just business. Throw away that mask and they are just ordinary high school girl friends.

I want to talk about Saori Hayami playing as Nino. No, it is not about her being unsuitable in playing the character but rather how Nino sounds weird and sometimes annoying. Like I said, I’m not saying Saori Hayami was a bad choice being casted as Nino. I’ve heard her played countless of different roles in so many animes so there is that sense of familiarity and ‘trademark’ to her ‘unique’ voice. I know, I once called her a clone of Mamiko Noto but that’s not the point. Anyway, the thing I want to point out is when Nino sings. In short, horrible. Yes, Saori Hayami does not possess that kind of high pitch cutie voice that would make guys go squealing over how cute she sounds. As though it was on purpose she sings horribly and out or tune or screaming. Perhaps it is to showcase that kind of anxiety and insecurity in Nino’s character and it clearly shows. But the way she sounds singing those singings sounded bad enough that I myself who is so talentless in singing, think I can sing and sound better than her!

Just hear the way she sings those songs. It’s like they’re out of tune or don’t fit in quite nicely. And the characters say she is good? Is this how rock band music is supposed to sound? Surely Saori Hayami sounds better than this even if her voice is not meant to sing. True enough, when she sings In No Hurry’s newest song, she sounds so much better! This is what I believe is the greatest high point that she can reach with her voice. That sounds more like it. Finally, something pleasant to my ears. I don’t have to cringe each time I hear her sing. Thus it goes to show that all the previous singing it sounded like she was trying too hard to sound out of tune and horrible. Well, she certainly did and in a way showcases the flexibility of her voice. The anonymous voice? More like the annoying voice! Well, if you think it is easy sounding like that, it’s not. So hats off to Saori Hayami for doing a great job in voicing Nino in this state.

Daisuke Ono as Haruyoshi is playing one of those carefree character roles compared to others that require that serious tone in his voice like Satou of Working!!, Dezel in Tales Of Zestiria The X, Kurou in K and Kyouma in Dimension W. Same case for Jun Fukuyama as Kuro as he sounds as goofy as Ansatsu Kyoushitsu’s Koro and Sousei No Onmyouji’s Kinako. Inversely, Satomi Arai was in serious mode compared to her other comical voices like Otome in Shimoneta and Shirai in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun. The other casts are Daiki Yamashita as Yuzu (Midoriya in Boku No Hero Academia), Kouki Uchiyama as Momo (Raku in Nisekoi), Ayahi Takagaki as Miou (Chris in Senki Zesshou Symphogear series) and Daisuke Namikawa as Yana (Waver in Fate/Zero).

I’m still not a fan of such rock band music so hearing all of the featured music here doesn’t really appeal or resonate with me. All of the songs featured are of course from In No Hurry with Highschool as the opening theme and Allegro as the ending theme. Hearing them again, I guess Saori Hayami does sound better here than singing as an insert song inside the anime. Insert songs like Canary, Spiral and Noise all sound somewhat the same to me. And because of that, seeing them perform on stage singing or jamming their guitars or hitting the drums feel like as though they are in some sort of demonic trance or high on drugs. More so in the case for Nino when she goes berserk. Well, you can’t have them prancing around in cute seductive moves like those idols, can you? The only song that isn’t rock based is that kiddie nursery rhyme, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! I still blame BanG Dream for this but at least they didn’t turn it into a rock rendition here.

There is something about the art style that catches my attention. Well, actually the character designs have eyes that are so big! Obviously bigger than your typical big eyes anime characters. Like as though they are meant for the shoujo market. Oh wait. The manga that this series was adapted from is indeed published in a shoujo manga magazine. Therefore the characters have this super weird-cum-cute looks without resorting to a typical chibi form. Just think of all those sparkly magical shows aimed for younger girls. Just without the magic here. Also, the characters seem to be a bit lanky, making shorty Yuzu only short by comparison to others. Other than that, the colouring and hues look bright and vivid. Animated by Brain Base who did Tonari No Kaibutsu-kun, Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru, D-Frag!, Watashi Ga Motete Dosunda, Natsume Yuujinchou, Durarara and Kyoukai No Rinne among others.

Overall, if Fuuka is too cheesy for you, maybe this one will do. However some annoying moments especially in characters like Nino and the constant melodrama could only sit well with fans who are really into this sort of genre while putting off others. The love triangle not really solved in the end and it could mean prolonging the ‘suffering’ and drama. Plus, a casual music listener like me won’t be very impressed with the same ‘flat’ kind of music the band has been churning out and playing here. Like as though they are fit for people who are tone deaf. Thank goodness I didn’t lose my taste in music after hearing this. Heck, I even get tired of hearing the same song after a while (assuming I listen to it even once every day) even if that song is one of my favourites. I’m not saying I won’t be looking forward to any more future animes of this genre. I would still give it a chance but I hope that if they want to come up with another rock band romance story, take some time to write out proper stories and characters. I can wait. I’m in no hurry to watch it. Sorry, bad pun…

WAIT A MINUTE!!!! HOLD ON A SECOND HERE!!! WHAT IS THIS ANIME DOING EVEN RIGHT HERE???!!! Souryo To Majiwaru Shikiyoku No Yoru Ni should have belonged in the hentai category even if the hentai scenes are considered mild! But it was placed along with the other animes of the season albeit not noticeably promoted. So I thought it was interesting that this short series about a monk having a love affair with a normal college girl who once had a crush on him younger, would be no harm. You know, some romantic comedy and little naughty mishaps especially from the misunderstanding arising from a profession that demands celibacy (usually). Nothing too serious. And oh boy to my surprise, there are actual sex scenes!!! WTF???!!! Oh well, already got one foot in the grave. Watching ‘harmless’ ecchi fanservice series in the past doesn’t make me any holier, though.

Episode 1
Mio Fukatani attends her class reunion. They guy she used to has a crush on, Takahide Kujou is there and as handsome as always. By the time she wanted to make a move on him, it was already graduation. Bummer. When some friends play a prank and remove his cap, everyone is shocked to see his shiny bald head. They remember his family runs a temple and that he must have become a priest too. Fukatani can’t help feel disappointed. Her love dream is over. On her way back, she is feeling tipsy. Luckily Kujou is there to help bring her home. As she lies in her bed feeling relieved that he has not changed even after becoming a priest, that is where the true colours of this demon emerge. Kujou says he is a man before a priest. Then he starts kissing and molesting her!

Episode 2
Kujou is even asking why the f*ck is she surprised. Because it’s normal for a priest to want to have sex too?! What kind of religion is that?! I want to join! He continues licking her sensitive parts till she climaxes. Multiple times. F*ck this guy is good! So good that Fukatani even passes out and lose consciousness while climaxing! She wakes up next morning with Kujou by her side, still not believing she did that unholy act with this guy. Though, she can’t remember much. He asks if she is free today. Because he takes her to his temple home.

Episode 3
When a young pretty lady calls out to Kujou, guess who she is? That’s his mom!!! OMG! What the hell is wrong with his world???!!! Kujou introduces Fukatani to his parents as his fiancée! He even says on her behalf that she agrees with whatever crap he meant when she didn’t even say a word. Fukatani feels unhappy despite he says he will love her with all his heart because it feels so empty. Later Kujou apologizes for it all. His father is trying to get him a wife and he is feeling the pressure. Of course he would like to get married to someone he specially loves. He doesn’t mind lying and hopes she could pretend to be his fiancée till he finds his true love. Second sin committed… Mother then shows them a very beautiful bedroom! Wink, wink! Time for Kujou to take advantage because even though they are pretending to be a couple, they can still practice to make children. And with that, here is today’s episode of love making session.

Episode 4
Fukatani knows it is all wrong but yet she still allows him to molest her. At least for once she puts her foot down to resist the lustful temptation by telling him to stop. Despite telling how this is all fake and just a show for his parents, deep down in her heart she still really likes him. She fends off his sweet words and runs away. She feels confused. Since it is late, she has to stay. She returns to the room to find a note that he allows her to sleep on the bed while he sleeps on the couch. Next morning, Kujou is acting all so weird. He is talking in some cheesy romantic fashion that makes Fukatani exhausted trying to keep up with all the flustering. Even mom is trying hook them up together and make Fukatani visit Kujou taking a shower. Let the love flow! She allows it!

Episode 5
Eventually Fukatani enters the bath… No turning back… She keeps her distance and tries to act tough, berating him for always teasing her and lying to his parents. Are you going against the man of God? Since she cares about his lies, that’s when he grabs her close to him. As her towel drops off, she is embarrassed he would see her entire body so she sticks close to him. Out of the frying pan and into the fire because now he is biting her ear. And then he starts washing her. Especially those dirty parts that must be cleansed… The cleanest bath she’ll ever take…

Episode 6
More confusion for Fukatani. If he isn’t really in love with her, why keep pretending? Isn’t that what pretending is all about? The next time Kujou wants to talk to her, she quickly avoids him and runs away. He catches up and tells it straight to her to say it if she doesn’t like him. She rants about being used as his plaything and should at least respect her. What respect?! She starts crying as she can’t take this anymore. She wants to stop pretending and go home. Kujou then hugs her and says he loves her. He has always loved her during those high school days. Because he stays in a temple, he knows he cannot think to stay with her so being with her was just enough. She thinks he is still lying. How to prove he isn’t? Kiss her. Okay. And then it leads to a full blown intercourse. Does she need any more proof than this?

Episode 7
More sex… She worries his monk robe will get dirty. So? Strip for him! And what is her reward for doing that? More sex! Full penetrative sex! I don’t know, Fukatani at the end says she is so happy but throughout the sexual intercourse she doesn’t have that happy look on her face. Like as though it was the face of being raped… I suppose it still made her feel so good that she forgot to set her alarm the next morning and is almost late for college. As she explains to her friend about her ‘extra-curriculum’ activity at the temple, her junior, Yukitaka comes to give a list of some space he booked. He then touches her hair and knows about her staying at the temple. Because he once lived near there too.

Episode 8
When Fukatani returns to the temple, a man who is here for some memorial service starts asking her questions. Though she is unsure, she tries to answer. Luckily Kujou is there to cover for her and give the correct answer before she made the blunder. Kujou is going to teach her more about it so she can help out better. I hope there wasn’t any sexual connotations in that. So Kujou did actually teach her some Buddhism stuffs. She is so awed he knows a lot! I mean, he isn’t just all about sex and perversion, right?! Why you have to say that because now the real interesting lesson begins! He wants to make sure there is love between them. Yup. Screw the teachings of Buddhism and let him f*ck you doggy style! I hope you learn your lesson today.

Episode 9
The duo must be really getting good and used to having sex now, huh? I hope it is the ‘energizer’ Fukatani needs to continue her studies. There’s still more to learn… While she is walking at the corridor, Yukitaka suddenly springs a surprise by showing his face. He has helped her out with some of the assignments she has forgotten. He starts acting weird as he tries to flirt with her and trying to prepare to kiss her. Luckily Kujou shows up. He is Yukitaka’s older brother. Both brothers don’t like each other. Kujou believes Yukitaka is always doing what he wants and doesn’t care about the repercussions here. Later Yukitaka tries to convince Fukatani to not stay with his brother because she will only suffer by doing boring things. She tries to resist his flirting and temptation to come with him. Kujou shows up and warns him about trying to rush his death.

Episode 10
As both brothers continue to argue, Fukatani tries to calm them down. It’s nothing. She’s alright. Fukatani is shocked when Kujou admonishes her for having little faith. It’s disappointing he cannot trust her. She is left in shock as she lashes back that she was afraid the whole while and that it is her who is disappointed in him for not trusting her. Kujou wants her to prove it by having sex in front of Yukitaka?! WTF???!!! Hey, better than having a threesome… Oh wait. That’ll defeat the point. But still, WTF???!!! And so he molests her to prove she belongs to him. Even Yukitaka feels freaking uneasy. Fukatani stops this insanity and screams she is not an object! Damn right she isn’t. But at his rate… After she runs away, Kujou starts feeling regret. The next morning, Fukatani is shocked Kujou has left a note saying he left on a trip. Mom explains that trip is for him to become a better monk and will be back soon. Imagine no more sex…

Episode 11
Fukatani reflects on things when Kujou is not around. Maybe this happened at a good time. When Kujou comes back, he immediately f*cks her! OMFG! NOTHING WAS LEARNT!!!! Thankfully that was just Fukatani’s lewd after thought. Jeez… But he is the least of her worries because Yukitaka continues to bug her by popping up wherever she goes. He claims she will encounter problems later, that’s why he will always be around for her. He points out his parents’ wedding anniversary coming soon and they will leave together. His parents get along well because mom always cried a lot. Yukitaka doesn’t want to cause problems for the one he loves and wants to be independent. He continues to try and convince her to choose him over his brother or else she’ll have problems. However she pushes him away. She has always thought about her fleeting love for Kujou. It never disappeared. He is the person she loves. Yukitaka gets upset that everyone is the same, always sacrificing for others. It makes him an idiot for doing that. Fukatani calms him down by relating one of Kujou’s teachings. You can only understand the suffering of others when you suffer yourself. She hugs him and hopes he will one day understand. Wow. Suddenly this show takes an enlightening turn?

Episode 12
Kujou finally comes home and Fukatani welcomes him home. As she tries to explain herself, Kujou hugs her and confesses he really loves her. He apologizes for that incident in front of Yukitaka but it is because he doesn’t want her to be anyone else’s. She views him as a mean but kind man (?!) and loves him very much. Cue to kiss. So what else is there left to do? SEX!!! Yeah, this time f*cking feels so much better and good than before. At the end of it all, Kujou brings her to show her a lovely present: The blooming sakura tree. Fukatani notes how many things and hardships will await in the future. But no matter how much time has passed, she will continue to love him. She loves this aggressive monk. WTF?! What could be better than another round of sex under the sakura tree?

Let God Come Into You!
Yeah, it was really screwed up… I’m not really into hentai so watching this albeit around 4 minutes per episode really feels weird. Honest. Believe me, I didn’t really get a boner watching those sex scenes. Honest!!! For the record, this isn’t the first anime hentai series that I watched and I remember that kind of ‘shock’ when I actually saw real hentai footage in it. Uh huh… Brings back memories when I watched the OVAs for Mezzo Forte… Sheesh…

For this kind of series, there are of course a couple of versions, namely the censored or uncensored versions. You might have guessed which version I saw… I did see the censored ones for comparison and it seems the obvious difference is the sex scenes. About 45 seconds or so of sex footage emitted if you feel like you wanna be a good boy but… Oh screw it. Just watch the uncensored one you horny piece of sh*t. We’re all perverts already by watching this series. Later I found out that there are 2 versions of the uncensored… I don’t know which one I watched then. Assuming is the lower quality version, does this mean the mosaic will be taken away? Yeah, instead of strategically placed objects or those blinding lights, the mosaic is the only thing that stands between the real things. You can still make out what a penis and vagina looks like. Just grainier. Though there is penetration, but not fluid comes out in the end or during despite they screaming “I’m coming! I’m coming!”. Geez… So is this considered partial hentai?

So I’m thinking the only reason why such a series (which was adapted from an adult manga of the same name) was ‘slipped’ under the radar and be shown or promoted alongside other ‘safe’ mainstream animes is that they might want to test the market. What are today’s audiences’ perception of something like this? Will they accept actual sex scenes in a series? If the response is encouraging (assumingly), I believe we’ll be seeing more of this kind of hentai stuff slowly permeating the mainstream anime seasons. Well, good thing or not, it looks like there is already one. And another this season. Oh boy. Looks like this is really a trend.

The plot and story is very thin and only made controversial because the main character is a priest. Otherwise it looks just like any other ordinary love story infused with lots of sex to distract you from the wafer thin plot. Like porn, right? Your characters are pretty average too. Just because Kujou is a priest, we start judging him he can’t have sex, etc. I know I shouldn’t be shocked because I have heard of such people who are supposed to serve God end up sexually abusing women and children. But let us not go there. It just proves that it doesn’t matter what kind of job you do or what kind of position you have, as long as you are human, you will naturally have that primal carnal instinct to f*ck and want to be f*cked. Yes, to put it bluntly.

Fukatani is also your typical average college girl. Just because she is a bit pretty, I’m sure a lot of viewers would come to think her as a slut. Too bad she doesn’t fall into this definition since she has only slept with one man. Sex crazy, you say? For me, I think she is very confused about her feelings for him initially. She does love him for a long time and still does but when she had to participate in this pretend game, it was where the confusion began. Because if they’re supposed to just pretend to be a couple in front of his parents, why are they also ‘pretending’ to make love behind closed doors? And Kujou sometimes wants her to keep it down so as not to make his parents of something weird is going on.

Therefore in the end when they finally realize their true love for each other, I can’t help think but there is just one reason and conclusion for it: Sex is good! Yup, after all that caressing, licking and f*cking, if Kujou was just freaking bad in bed, it would have been a rape case for Fukatani. Yes Fukatani, I’m sure you love him after all because after all the time he has screwed you up real good, why settle for second best? Whoever that is. I wonder if women really like it rough when making out with their man? You can’t be a pussy when f*cking a pussy, can you?

And it made me just realize how ‘unrealistic’ sex is and thus this is just porn fantasy. Kujou is so f*cking good with his hands that he literally makes Fukatani climax all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. I know she is in love with him that helps a lot but it just feels unrealistic. Feels like porn level. Even though the sex scenes are already short, hearing Fukatani moan like a porn shoot feels unbearable. (By the way, I checked the seiyuu voicing her and looking at her resume I found her other voice acting roles were for hentai. No wonder she sounds so pro). Each time such scenes come up, I’ll be wary to turn my volume down and be aware of my surroundings in case it arises any outside suspicion. No wonder I didn’t get any boner! Damn you Kujou! I want to be Fukatani and be sexed up by you!!!

I don’t know what happened to Yukitaka. Was he trying to snatch Fukatani just to piss off his older brother? Did Fukatani’s ‘enlightened’ teachings finally showed him the light? I don’t know. He doesn’t feel like a main character. He just appeared so as to force and shoehorn in some drama and put some tension in their love. So that in the end you could say that this third wheel that was seemingly going to tear them apart actually was a blessing in disguise because it made them realize their love for each other even stronger. And so they f*ck happily ever after. Thank you Yukitaka. You’re no longer needed from now on. Goodbye.

Art and animation feels just pretty average. Just because there are sex scenes doesn’t mean everything starts to look good. I don’t know. I’m not a pro hentai watcher. Animated by Seven who is an expert in animating short anime series like Morita-san Wa Mukuchi, Okusama Ga Seitokaichou, Strange+, Ai Mai Mi, Recorder To Randoseru and Danna Ga Nani Wo Itteiru Ka Wakaranai Ken. But they also animated quite a number hentai series. Well, I didn’t see any of them so can this series be my first? Definitely not going to watch them… Because of Kujou being a bald guy, sometimes I can’t help think this is what a hentai version of One Punch Man or that gorilla warden in Nanbaka would look like if they ever venture into porn after they retire as a superhero or prison warden. Oh heck, Kujou is starting to look a lot like Bleach’s Madarame too… Why do bald guys have this similar look?! Yeah, now I know why different hairstyles and colours are so important in anime. Sad, it took me this series to realize that…

So it goes to show that humans being humans will do anything and give any reason just to have sex. And in the realm of shows, sex sells. I can’t say that I regret watching this show because that would mean ‘disrespecting’ the ‘milder’ ecchi genre anime shows that I have watched all over the years. So you think that butt show, Keijo is bad, huh? I just didn’t really enjoy this series since I was expecting something else from the start. As though this series is trying to trap and bait you into checking out hentai and porn because with Pokemon Go and that stupid fidget spinners overtaking porn as all-time searched thing on Google at one time, porn producers may be worried that their reign will be toppled by other non-porn related stuffs. Don’t worry. As long as we still have dicks and pussies, the f*cking will never stop. We’re so busy f*cking and cumming, it is no wonder Jesus is delaying his second cumming, I mean coming. Damn we’re all so screwed…

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